Pierce County Ad Hoc Behavioral Health Committee


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document iconAd Hoc Behavioral Health Committee 

The Pierce County Community Connections Department created a short-term ad hoc Behavioral Health Committee. The purpose of this Committee is to develop an Integrated Community Behavioral Health Plan framework that responds to the needs of the citizens of Pierce County.

The ad hoc committee is an advisory body comprised of mental health and substance abuse professionals, criminal justice communities, emergency medical services, medical doctors, community citizens and others of Pierce County. This body is a is a partnership and collaboration of exceptional people that are representative of our community.

The Committee will convene three to four times from July to August 2016. Their perspective and expertise is critical to the Committee’s success in creating a framework will help we all consider the subject of behavioral health in Pierce County.

The Crisis

  • Washington State is 48th out of 50 states when looking at the prevalence of mental health services compared to access of care, particularly when it comes to inpatient capacity.
  • The national average is 26.1 per 100,000 residents – Washington State averages 8.3 beds.
  • Pierce County is even worse and ranks at the bottom of all urban counties, with 2.8 beds per 100,000. The fact is Pierce and South King County have the great distinction of being one of the worst areas in all of the United States for mental health beds.
  • We are in a local mental health crisis in Pierce County. Currently we treat the mentally ill on the streets, in our shelters, in the emergency rooms of our hospitals and in our jails - none of which are the right place for people to receive the behavioral health care they need.
  • We simply must create additional behavioral health capacity throughout the continuum of in patient, outpatient and community based care.

Despite the effectiveness of mental health prevention and treatment, not all individuals are getting the help the need. Lack of insurance, physical limitations, stigma, and strict access to care standards are some reasons individuals might not be accessing services. In some cases, the resources aren't available.

  • As the rate of mental illness increases, the amount of state-funded resources continues to decrease. For example, between 2000 and 2010, the number of involuntary treatment act-certified beds in Washington State decreased by 36%.
  • The Centers for Disease Control reports that only half of children with mental disorders received treatment for the disorder in the past year (15Center for Disease Control, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm#data