By: Jodi Daly, Ph.D., President and CEO
Among the many lessons this unpredictable year has highlighted is that our bodies and minds are intrinsically linked, and it’s only possible to live our healthiest, most productive lives by supporting our mental wellness.
Mental health is central to our overall health – and as you’ll read in this issue of the Community Report, it follows that behavioral healthcare is central to healthcare overall.
As a growing body of research indicates that roughly one in three COVID-19 survivors also experience psychological and neurological issues, we’re also seeing the impacts and uncertainty of the pandemic affect our youth, Black and Indigenous communities at alarming and disproportionate rates. It is more critical than ever that we make resources available – and that these and all community members feel empowered to access care.
Throughout Mental Health Awareness month in May, we are working with partners across the state to help demystify and raise the visibility of mental health resources through serving as the fiscal steward for A Mindful State, a people-powered and community-organized statewide campaign intended to help facilitate a feeling of community and a sense of duty and support for one another.
Another key priority for us is community education. Throughout Mental Health Month, we are providing five different community education classes for local employers, healthcare professionals and community members at large. We also provide Mental Health First Aid trainings all year long.
Community education is especially important to our organization because it is an opportunity to teach others outside of the mental health industry the impact of discrimination toward mental illness. Community education helps create supportive communities equipped and empowered with the helpful skills essential to recognizing and responding to individuals in crisis, or knowing how to approach their co-worker, family member or friend about mental health.
We’re also continually expanding our partnerships with other local medical providers to ensure we are treating the whole person – and maintaining smart, effective use of our safety net resources across the region.
Recently, we launched a new collaboration with Yakima Valley Memorial to provide wraparound suboxone treatment for community members experiencing opioid addiction.
In White Salmon, a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce will fund a new crisis stabilization program and expand the availability of high-quality behavioral healthcare – ensuring our neighbors in rural Klickitat County have support close by.
Finally, we’re working with our colleagues in Fourfront Contributor to highlight the growing need for state investment in community behavioral health agencies, enabling us to attract enough high-quality mental health professionals to meet our communities’ needs. You may have seen articles on this topic in our local newspapers. We’re proud to advocate for compensation that recognizes the value we provide as economic generators, job creators, and partners that drive cost-efficiencies and ease burdens on local hospitals and law enforcement agencies.
By recognizing the importance of mental health to overall health – and the integral role that behavioral healthcare plays in healthcare itself – we will continue to support the well-being of our local communities.