State of Washington Issues Behavioral Health Grants

On October 30, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced that it is beginning the process of distributing $33.8 million in grants for help to people with behavioral health needs. The money will go to 22 projects across the state. Those projects will include 395 new beds in inpatient mental health centers and outpatient services that help transition people after leaving the hospital. Facilities across the state will receive the funds.

Purpose of the Grant Funds

Governor Jay Inslee has a five-year plan to modernize Washington's mental health care system His goal is to end civil patient placements in state institutions by 2023. He wants to transform the state's mental health services in favor of smaller facilities that are based in the communities where people live. The governor stated that the plan is well underway. The funding supports the state's efforts to make sure that residents of Washington can access the behavioral and mental health services they need and that they won't have to go far from home to get that care. Governor Inslee added that the state's legislators and local leaders have driven the collaboration.

Past Rounds of Grant Funding

This new $33.8 million in grants for mental health services is on top of the $12.3 million awarded in January 2020 and $23 million that was distributed in May 2020. The total amount of the grants distributed for mental health and behavioral health services across the state of Washington is now $70 million for 2020.

Demand for Mental Health Services Is Increasing

The state of Washington has already been dealing with the challenges related to a high demand for care related to substance abuse and mental health disorders. There is a higher need than capacity in the state. The isolation, quarantine, social distancing and shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenge of providing behavioral health services even more urgent to those at high risk of self-harm. These grants aim to increase capacity and provide more opportunities for people to get specialized mental health care in their own communities. Offering more outpatient support care at the community level could also help prevent relapses in substance abuse and addiction.

Entities That Received the Grants

The state of Washington issued these grants to a variety of entities that provide mental and behavioral health services. These entities include intensive inpatient behavioral health programs, specialized centers for dementia care, peer respite programs, 90- to 180-day long-term civil containment centers, enhanced outpatient service facilities and community projects that address local behavioral health needs.

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone's mental health. Some people have experienced more severe effects than others. School-age children and teenagers who aren't able to attend school, play sports, participate in clubs or hang out with friends because of closures or pre-existing health conditions may feel isolated, depressed and anxious. Depression is on the rise in teenagers, too. Risk of self-harm is greater in people who report persistent anxiety and depression. Substance abuse also increases in these situations. Adults who have lost their jobs and are facing economic insecurity and homelessness are also experiencing worse mental health outcomes. Even those who still have their jobs are feeling the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and panic disorders in particular are on the rise. Members of Generation X who have children at home and high-risk parents are feeling the squeeze as they try to deal with remote schooling, working from home, running their households, caring for elderly parents and preparing for an uncertain future.

What People Can Do to Protect Their Mental Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers tips for protecting mental health during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These tips include pausing, breathing and noticing emotions. Take breaks from upsetting content. Know your body, and pay attention to new feelings or physical symptoms. Reach out and stay connected with friends and family on a digital basis when in-person contact isn't safe or recommended.

When to Seek Behavioral Healthcare

The state of Washington and CDC offer guidance on when to seek behavioral healthcare. Anyone who has a diagnosed mental health condition and feels their symptoms are worse should seek urgent assistance. Anyone who has persistent feelings of anxiety, despair, hopelessness or depression should contact their doctor or a mental health hotline as soon as possible. A person with suicidal ideation should call a suicide prevention hotline or seek emergency treatment.

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