Without options in Oregon, teens who need behavioral health care go out of state

Emilene Valadez and René Miranda talk with their son at their home in Beaverton. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

Editor’s note

Content warning: This story contains descriptions of substance use disorder and self-harm. Help is available. Call or text 988 for confidential 24-hour support or visit

During the Christmas holidays, without any school structure, the 17-year-old son of Emilene Valadez and René Miranda relapsed, falling back into the clutches of cocaine.

The Beaverton teen was honest about his breakdown, telling his parents he was afraid he would die.

About the report

Oregon’s failure to provide adequate mental health care to its residents has become more visible in recent years, but its causes date back decades. The Oregonian/OregonLive aims to shine a light on barriers to quality care, identify policy failures and illuminate a path forward. The Teen Recovery series examines how Oregon’s youth behavioral health system compares to other states and what parents are obligated to do to keep their children safe. The Oregonian/OregonLive interviewed 15 teens, five parents and numerous educators and service providers, spending about two and a half months getting to know the students at Harmony Academy Recovery High School in Lake Oswego, attending their classes and following them to school activities. The editorial staff has chosen not to use the students’ full names because they are minors. Continuing coverage at

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