Washington is one of the best places to live in the United States. But despite a network of talented individuals dedicated to delivering great care, Washington lags behind the nation in providing timely access to services for behavioral health, which includes mental health and substance use disorders.
A MULTI-PRONGED PLAN FOR REBUILDING OUR MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
Move civil commitments to the community — one of the biggest changes the governor proposes is providing treatment as close to where people live as possible — even for those with long-term psychiatric commitments. When treatment is delivered close to home, research tells us that patients stay more closely connected with their friends and families, those who prescribe their treatment and the supports from community mental health agencies. This promotes better health outcomes.
Invest in 21st century treatment at Western State Hospital — the governor’s budget provides funding for nearly 137 positions to shore up staffing called for by the federal quality and safety audits at Western State. In addition, consultants also recommended providing treatment in the state hospitals that addresses not only mental health issues but also co-occurring substance use disorders.
Strengthen behavioral health care and create more diversion and discharge resources in the community — One consequence of patients having to wait too long to receive care is that by the time they finally do, it is in the highest, most-acute settings, often the emergency room. That’s because the health care system is disjointed, has too few services, too few providers and not enough crisis response services. When people can’t get help that keeps them well and safe in their homes and communities, they go to ERs — and some to jails.
Gov. Inslee’s Policy Brief
“My budget will strengthen our state psychiatric hospitals and redesign the community-based behavioral health care system. By transforming the state hospitals, by diverting people from jails to appropriate community care, by improving services for people with substance use disorder and by integrating behavioral health care, we will enhance the health outcomes and cut the overall costs of caring for the people of Washington state.”
— Gov. Jay Inslee