WATCH: Washington’s mental health system is broken. Join us for a conversation about how to fix it

Washington’s mental health care system struggles to meet the needs of its residents. Long-term pressures such as historical underfunding of social programs have turned into sharp fractures, with new pressures on a stressed workforce from mental health care providers and increased demand for services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Existing services are often outdated and expensive. Therapists are hard to find, and availability of beds within treatment facilities is limited.

State and local officials, advocacy organizations, and others continue to seek ways to meet the immediate needs of the population and work toward long-term solutions.

The Mental Health Project is an initiative in the Seattle Times that focuses on covering mental health and behavioral issues. It is funded by the Ballmer Group, a national organization focused on the economic mobility of children and families. The Seattle Times retains editorial control over the work produced by this team.

The Seattle Times Mental Health Project co-sponsored a virtual event Thursday with the League of Women Voters of Seattle King County to have a conversation with local leaders and people with live experiences about the state of mental and behavioral health care in our community.

The event, posted above, was moderated by Seattle Times reporter Hannah Forfaro.

Panel members, who included people with personal experiences with mental illness or substance use disorder, discussed mental health and behavioral disparities, challenges in training and retaining mental health providers, and 988 lifelines for next year’s crisis.

The speakers are:

  • Sharia Street, an acting program director at the nonprofit Philanthropy Northwest and a member of the Lummi Nation.
  • Jim Volendrov, Senior Policy and Advocacy Adviser to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington.
  • Representative Nicole Macri, state representative for Legislative District 43 and deputy director of strategy for the Downtown Emergency Service Center.
  • Isabel JonesDeputy Director of Behavioral Health for King County.

We would like to hear from you.

The Mental Health Project team listens. We would like to know what questions you have about mental health and what stories you suggest we cover.

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Mental health resources from The Seattle Times

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