BHECN - The Behavioral Health Emergency Coordination Network

BHECN (pronounced beacon) is a network of mental health and substance use service providers in and around Multnomah County. The network includes Multnomah County as the Local Mental Health Authority, the City of Portland, and other health system and community mental health and substance use partners. 

Since December 2020, the main goal of BHECN has been to make sure that people having a mental health or substance use crisis can get the help they need as early as possible and in the safest and most supportive setting possible. 

Planning discussions included looking at the gap between existing needs and existing services while centering the experience of people living with a mental health diagnosis or substance use disorder. Recently, BHECN has moved from planning to implementation of projects that will increase both capacity and coordination in the system of care.

Expanding Services

Additional sobering beds are planned in the coming months: 
Both facilities are currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2024. Both are funded through the state’s Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRNs) established by Measure 110 (The Drug Treatment Recovery Act)

Current BHECN Projects

  • Stabilization Center - A 20+ bed facility offering 30 to 90 day stays for people leaving withdrawal management or sobering services. Will provide a stable place to live and connect with next level substance use and mental health treatment.
  • Transitional Housing Services - A 20-25 bed project contracted with Bridges to Change will provide critical housing and support services. The project includes short-term stabilization and long-term wellness support for people moving between withdrawal management and residential services. In addition, the project will serve people who have completed residential treatment. Services will help them successfully rejoin the community and help to improve their overall well-being.

Expanding the Network of Providers

Fifteen behavioral health providers recently were approved through a Request for Programmatic Qualifications (RFPQ) process. Through this process organizations show interest in providing services and pre-qualify to contract with the county over time. The outcome is a pool of organizations who can help expand, improve or develop new services. In this case, including: 

  • Harm Reduction Services
  • Crisis and Stabilization Services
  • Residential Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Peer Recovery Support Services
  • Shelter/Transitional Housing

    BHECN Executive Committee

    BHECN has been led by an Executive Committee made up of people from various network agencies and organizations. The Executive Committee has ceased meeting as of Oct. 2023 as work moves from planning to building out projects. The Executive Committee will re-form as the need arises. 

    City & County Support Team

    • Heather Mirasol, Multnomah County Health Department Interim Behavioral Health Director
    • April Rohman, Policy Advisor, Office of Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson
    • Chris Fick, Chief of Staff, Office of Chair Jessica Vega Pederson
    • Skyler Brocker-Knapp, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

    BHECN Goals

    The main goals of BHECN, spelled out in its charter, are to plan, design, and start-up a stabilization facility and coordinated network along with the following requirements: 

    • Increase sobering beds throughout the County. 
    • Work with partners in law enforcement and first responders to ensure successful sobering and stabilization for individuals in need of behavioral health crisis services. 
    • Create follow-up stabilization facilities throughout the system, including detox. 
    • Develop strong connections to psych, emergency, EDs, urgent walk-in, voluntary low-barrier detox, mental health services, housing/re-housing, job skills and placement options. 
    • Develop a more aligned and effective approach to coordinating crisis continuum resources across a Coordinated Behavioral Health Network.