Portland Public Schools launches REAHL initiative, empowering students facing mental health and addiction challenges

By Regence
November 02, 2018

Regence joins PPS to kick off the new program as part of our ongoing effort to reduce opioid abuse in our community.

Photo: Portland Public Schools superindentent Guadalupe Guerrero at the REAHL initiative's launch event, Thursday, November 1. 

Students in public schools come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, often with a combination of mental health and substance abuse issues. Portland Public Schools is trying to address that through a new program offering a continuum of care to support them.

REAHL (Recovery Education and Action for Healthy Living) was celebrated recently by a host of community partners and local, state and federal officials as an innovative solution to marshal resources from throughout the school district in a coordinated way.

The program has four main components: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery. The district is in year one of a five-year plan, with the goal of opening a recovery high school, among other initiatives.

“This is a big day for Portland Public Schools and students,” said school board chairwoman Rita Moore. “We have issues with substance use disorder in Portland, Oregon and the U.S.

We are going to need all of you and more.”

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said she was happy to see the Portland effort and local leadership for innovative solution.

“I have spent a lot of time hearing from people affected by the opioid epidemic,” she said. Lives have been lost, and stigma often makes it hard for people to get the treatment they need.

Brenda Martinek, chief of student support services, issued a call to action, noting that schools are not funded to address students who need mental health and addiction treatment. Community partners and resources are essential for the program to evolve.

“We need your help,” she said.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon helped sponsor the kickoff event for the REAHL initiative as part of our ongoing effort to support organizations that understand, as we do, the needs of our communities to reduce substance abuse.