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Approximately 9 million children in the United States have serious emotional problems at any given time. Yet only 1 in 5 of these children is receiving appropriate treatment. What’s more, studies demonstrate that an average of eight to ten years pass between the onset of symptoms until the time when they get help for young people living with mental illnesses. Misperceptions about mental illnesses can prevent children and their families from seeking help. Misinformation and myths surrounding serious emotional disturbances of children and youth create social exclusion and feed discrimination at school, after-school activities, child care, and more. This stigma means that many youth don’t get the help they need. In Oregon, it is estimated that 66% of youth experiencing mental health problems and 76% experiencing addiction issues in Oregon are not getting the treatment and care they need to recover.

In order to help fight stigma and change perceptions among youth about mental illness and addiction, and change perceptions about youth that are suffering from these challenges, the Open Minds Open Doors campaign is working to reach out to youth across the county. The outreach effort focuses on engaging junior and senior high school students in designing and communicating their own campaign messages that will speak directly to their peers and to adults in a meaningful way through a Youth Media Contest.


Clackamas County Commissioners with the Youth Media Contest Winners
Left to Right: Commissioner Lininger, Commissioner Bernard, Commissioner Lehan, Commissioner Damon, Laura Lowery, Ahven Firth, Canby Youth Advisory Board members: Peter Schultz and Hunter Mead, Betty Smith, Commissioner Savas

First Place: C. Winner, H. Mead, P. Schultz


Second Place: A. Firth

Audio: Look At Me - Lyrics


Third Place: B. Smith

Skeletons in the Closet


Honorable Mention: Youth M.O.V.E.

Change Mural


Honorable Mention: L. Lowery.

Essay - Rise Up with Depression


Honorable Mention: K. Pitzer, S. Davis

Essay - Who's Really Hiding in the Darkness?

Campaign Partners

Folk Time        Pamplin Media Group        Clackamas County Health, Housing and Human Services