Holiday Message from Problem Gambling Services Program

Gambling on Santa's Surprises?

Lottery tickets are not suitable gifts for youth under 18

Every year thousands of children receive lottery tickets and scratch-offs in holiday stockings and as gifts from relatives.  Columbia Community Mental Health Problem Gambling Prevention Program wants to spread the word that lottery and other gambling prodcuts are NOT for children under age 18.

If gambling is affecting you or your family, contact the Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline at or call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (1-877-698-4648).  You may also send a text to 503-713-6000 or live chat with a representative at  The Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline is a confidential access point for those seeking assistance.

To learn more about problem gambling contact Brianne Mares at

"Research tells us that the sooner a child begins gambling, the more likely he or she is to develop problem gambling issues in later life.  Plus, we know that an estimated 50 percent of people with gambling problems have had a big win early in their lives.  Bottom line is - lottery tickets shouldn't be given to kids."

Brianne Mares,                   Certified Prevention Specialist

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is a curriculum that teaches about recovery and resiliency and how someone can respond to a person who is having a mental health crisis or struggling with a mental health challenge. MHFA teaches the mnemonic ALGEE:

  • Assess for Risk of Suicide or Harm
  • Listen Nonjudgmentally
  • Give Reassurance and Information
  • Encourage Appropriate Professional Help
  • Encourage Self-Help and Other Support Strategies.

Columbia Community Mental Health started offering Mental Health First Aid training in May of 2011. Since then 22 classes have been held and 294 participants certified. Since starting MHFA trainings, CCMH employees (3 currently) have also become trainers in the youth version of Mental Health First Aid, which assists participants to offer help to youth who are experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis until appropriate help is received or the crisis resolves. Different areas of the community have shown interest and some have already participated in a training and become certified Mental Health first aiders. We have trained people from the court system, schools, and juvenile department to mention a few. Because our community first responders had an interest in Mental Health First Aid training, we had 2 trainers take the specialized public safety curriculum supplemental training. We have participated in 4 Public Safety trainings, 3 of which were full week Crisis Intervention Trainings.

If you would like more information on the Mental Health First Aid Trainings offered by CCMH please contact one of the following trainers:

Juli Knapp or 503-438-2217

Nicole Morris

Brianne Mares

Columbia County's 1st "Out of the Darkness" Walk

On Sept. 10th, 2016, 144 Columbia County residents walked a 2-mile loop through Scappoose, OR.  This was for a generous cause to create awareness around suicide.  Hosted by Scappoose Police Dept. and sponsored by Columbia Funeral Home, this was just one of the 375 walks that take place nationwide to support suicide prevention and awareness.  

A few of our wonderful Scappoose Police Department officers

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) promotes the idea that it's okay for people to talk about this critically important topic.  It's okay for people that have been affected by suicide to have hope.  For those thinking about suicide, to understand that there are people who care and can support you in whatever hardship you may be suffering.  The AFSP has a goal to reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2025, and the best way to do so is to get people to understand and talk about it! 

The walk was a huge success with encouraging speeches from CCMH's own Brianne Mares, prevention specialist, who worked along side the Scappoose Police Department's chief, Norm Miller, and SPD's records specialist, Hailey Holm, to create this special event for our community.  There were also special appearances and speeches from Deborah Zwetchkenbaum, assistant director for Lines For Life Crisis Hotline, and Marilyn Grover, vice president for the Suicide Bereavement Support Group.  

Deborah Zwetchkenbaum, assistant director for Lines For Life Crisis Hotline

Hailey Holm & Brianne Mares

HAILEY HOLM, Deborah Zwetchkenbaum & Chief Norm Miller

Kristie Caveness, a CCMH A&D counselor, created a team (Walk of Hope) and invited CCMH's staff to join.  The turn out was pretty phenomenal! We raised over $865 and plan to do it again next year.  Our team members included myself, Juli Knapp, Kira Eagle, Shellie Henderson, Amy Bailey, Kelli Mcleod, Briana Hoskins, Tasha Miniszewski, Amy Quaring, Yvonne Scholl, Kirsten Harris, Cina Thomas, and several other non-CCMH employees also joined our team (who I will not name as I don't have their permission) but we are all so proud to have helped in this great cause. There is still time to donate until Dec. 31, 2016 (!

For Columbia County, we raised over $9,900 which will go towards research and bringing more awareness nationwide.  This topic touches one in every five Americans, and in Columbia County it was found that an average of 11 suicides occur annually.  As it stands right now Oregon is ranked 10th in the nation for rates of suicide, and our nation as a whole leads 2nd in the world for people ages 12-24.  Can you believe that? There are so many suicides that occur through our home that we are ranked 2nd in the world!! 

Let the walk begin!

During the opening ceremony, such a great group to see supporting this cause!

Why is this happening? For most people, its simply feeling like they're lost and have no other choice.  I remember hearing, as a kid, that if someone committed suicide it was because they were weak and a coward, but that is not true in the least! The disease of depression runs through our world and feels unstoppable, but we can stop it! We can teach others how to stop it! Have a voice, know that there are people out there to help, be a support, saving one life can save 1,000! 

Even though this walk is over you can still help! Get in touch with local hotlines and find out how to volunteer (they're always looking), go to the AFSP website and donate (, if you see someone is struggling encourage them to talk about it.  You don't have to be a professional to show that you care! Let's not give up on this fight, let's follow the steps of the AFSP and reduce suicide rates by 20% (or more!) by 2025!


Brianne Mares (2nd from the left) and some of the very appreciated volunteers

Some CCMH staff: Briana Hoskins, Tasha Miniszewski, Katie Miller, Kira Eagle, Kristie Caveness, Shellie Henderson & Sam Lewis

CCMH is Expanding!

Let me tell you the story of the Miller Property….  The “Miller Property” consists of the two homes and the 5+ acres located between Creekside and Gable Rd. 

Soon after moving all 60 employees into our new Creekside Center in 2005 the writing was on the wall that someday in the not so far future we would run out of space (again) and need to expand.  Our Executive Director along with the Board of Directors felt the Miller Property would be an ideal location. 

The Miller Property finally came up for sale in August 2015.  CCMH made an offer on the property and was turned down.  Both septic systems were no longer functioning and getting a mortgage on the property would be very difficult. The new listing agent contacted us and asked if we would be interested in making another, we made an offer and the offer was accepted.

But that’s not the end of the story….  As any prudent buyer would do, we scheduled a full house inspection for both homes.  As we entered the gray house we could hear water running, at first it sounded like someone was filling a bath tub.  As we started down the hallway we found ourselves wadding through about an inch and a half of water.  The water flowed down the hall and into the adjoining rooms.  No one knows how long the water had been running.  The good news is the seller’s insurance agreed to cover the damages.  This money can be put toward the remodel, such as replacing the flooring, which we knew would need to be done anyway.  We signed the final closing documents on the property August 8, 2016.

The Board of Directors approved funding to remodel the Kid’s Haven (previously the yellow) house. Two of our children’s therapists planned the layout for the remodel which includes a large reception/waiting room, four playrooms, two observation rooms, clinician work spaces, a kitchenette and ADA bathroom.  I’m sure there will be an open house so everyone can see the new space.

Another benefit to purchasing the Miller property, which we are all grateful for, was adding several more parking spaces to Creekside!