Lived Experience

Living with a behavioral health condition (mental health, problem gambling, and/or substance use disorder) can be very challenging, especially if an individual hasn’t yet found the effective clinical treatment and social supports to help him/her manage the condition(s). These conditions often co-exist, adding complexity to the individual’s challenges and needs.

People affected by behavioral health conditions, including friends, family members, and the general public may have varied levels of understanding about these conditions which may either be beneficial or detrimental to individuals living with them. The good news is that there are effective treatments and recovery is a reality for people living with behavioral health conditions!

Below are the stories of people who have experienced significant mental health concerns in their own words.


Local organizations are also providing opportunities for people living with behavioral health conditions to be part of the solution by advocating for additional resources, sharing their stories with policy makers and the public, providing training and information, and supporting each other through organized connections. A few of these organizations are listed below:

Finding peer services: If a person is on the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), they can contact their regional Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) to find out what peer support services are available in their region.

In Oregon, Certified Peers fall under the definition of Traditional Health Workers (THW) and a directory of Certified Peers can be found at the Oregon Health Authority’s Traditional Health Worker website

Mental Health Association of America/Oregon is an inclusive peer-run organization dedicated to self-direction honoring the voice of lived experience

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Oregon is the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness, as well as their families and loved ones. In conjunction with 15 local chapters or affiliates, NAMI Oregon serves all Oregonians through education and support programs at the state and local levels.


Oregon Family Support Network (OFSN) is a statewide organization providing education and advocacy for families experiencing complex challenges resulting from mental or behavioral health issues and other special health needs. OFSN provides referrals, technical information, training and emotional support for families; facilitates family-to-family links; provide assistance in navigating systems (government to education and others) thus helping families to gain support and services needed; organizes family events and support groups; provides one-on-one peer support services in conjunction with Wraparound or Intensive Community Treatment Services; and advocates for awareness and funding for children’s mental health support among other activities.


Oregon Recovers is a statewide coalition of people in recovery from substance use disorders uniting to transform Oregon healthcare. Oregon Recovers vision is to bring world-class prevention, treatment, and recovery support services to Oregonians suffering from the disease of addiction.