The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Washington with our 23 affiliates advocates that the 2015 Washington Legislature expand treatment and facilities for those with mental health conditions. Seven percent of the US population is seriously affected by mental health challenges. Another 20-45% need mental health care, including counseling, at some time in our lives. We can limit or prevent the homelessness, loss of productivity in the workforce and mental anguish brought on by depression, delusions, hallucinations, substance use and other brain disorders by focusing on prevention and recovery and not just crisis intervention.

The 2014 investments of $23 million for specialized crisis services, $28 million to implement changes that broaden the criteria for commitment under the state’s involuntary treatment act, and $863,000 requiring the use of Evidence Based Practices and the creation of performance measures for service organizations are steps towards building a more comprehensive mental health system.

There is more to do. Community hospital adult admissions in our state are up 117%, more than double since 2007; meanwhile, expenditures on mental health care grew only 28% during the same period. Six percent of those with a mental health condition are homeless or in jail. Washington also ranks next to the bottom in the percentage of affected individuals who are employed at 8.6%. Medicaid, not the state, funds 70% of our publicly funded mental health clinics. We must invest in more specialized care for children and young adults too, where mental health challenges threaten to derail their hopes and likelihoods of achieving self-sufficiency as productive citizens. Lamentably, Washington spends 40% below the average of other states per capita in mental health care.