New Committee Aims to Develop Long-Term Strategies to Ensure Behavioral Health Care for Washington’s Youth – Reform State

A new committee created to develop long-term strategies to ensure access to behavioral health care for Washington families in the perinatal phase, children and young people discussed some areas of concern during its first meeting on Monday.

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The Prenatal at 25 Advisory Board of the Strategic Behavioral Health Plan was formed during the legislative session of 2022 with the passage of House Bill 1890. The Child and Youth Behavioral Health Working Group (CYBHWG) recommended the development of the committee to the legislator, directing him to develop a strategic plan to address behavioral health needs across the state.

CYBHWG Co-Chair Lisa Callan (D-Issaquah) said the state’s behavioral health landscape has many holes.

“We know the capacity and the shortage of manpower,” Callan said. “We have this wonderful opportunity and an effective fundamental mandate and duty for us to ensure that we emerge from a cycle of impending crisis in the behavioral health of children, youth and families. And it drives towards a visionary space where we can make sure everyone gets the care they need when and where they need it. “

The committee must submit a strategic plan to the governor and legislature by November 1, 2024. Maureen Sorensen, Senior Director of Foster Care Operations at Coordinated Care, said the main focus should be to focus on boarding young people in hospitals. You said this is particularly bad for young people who have intellectual disabilities and concomitant disorders.

“When this is combined with the trauma of custody, we have more young people boarding our hospitals because we don’t have a safe and appropriate place for them in Washington State,” Sorensen said. “Every day our young people find themselves in these situations and this is causing them another irreversible trauma. I hope that some people present here can come together around this problem and work together to support young people who do not have access to services in those facilities, and also young people who embark on our hospitals “.

Sorensen said many young people who are housed in foster care do not have access to healing-focused spaces.

“They are leaving the facilities when they can, they have extremely high access to substances and we are seeing astronomical use of fentanyl with our young foster children,” Sorensen said. “The issue of having Narcan on them is something we are working on with those groups.”

CYBHWG Co-Chair Dr. Keri Waterland, Director of the Washington State Health Authority’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, said Kauffman & Associates will serve as an advisor to the committee.

“In the coming months, we will formalize what it will be like through charter work and other things, and we will engage with Kauffman & Associates on the timing of our meeting,” said Waterland. “We will also look at what it looks like across the state, taking into account rural, urban and border areas and making sure all of these voices are incorporated into the work we do. There will be gaps that this landscape analysis raises so that we can decide how to address them. “

Sharon Shadwell, a mental health consultant providing services in the Puget Sound area, stressed the importance of considering the health of those who are not yet born.

“I want to express my deep appreciation for the recognition of how essential it is to think about behavioral health starting before a baby is even born,” said Shadwell. “Our mental health and well-being really develop in the context of our most important relationships, and that happens from the beginning of our life and throughout our life.”

The next meeting of the committee will take place on 13 October at 1.30pm.

“The idea behind it [HB] 1890 was not just about looking after today’s needs and problems, but making sure we knew where we were going tomorrow and what the long-term plans for the state were, “Callan said.” For the coming year, [we’ll] raise community awareness and listen deeply within communities to help inform [us]. We will also work to try to quantify and qualify the landscape [and] what [services] they currently already exist across the entire continuum of care services in Washington State. Where are the deserts, and for what service and for whom? This will evolve into where we define the real gaps and how we take care of those gaps. “

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