We at Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy believe that one of the best ways to effect positive system change is through implementation of empirically supported approaches through at the regional, state, and national levels.
On the state level, the Washington Legislature perpetuates improved access and quality of mental health services to adults and children by passing ground breaking legislation to actualize these goals. It works closely with the University of Washington representatives who advise and testify on a myriad of issues regarding mental health services and evidence based practices.
Notable Past Washington State legislation related to Behavioral Health:
Senate Bill 5763 (2005 – 2006) required and funded evidence-based treatments for certain populations. A task force made recommendations including: “the legislature should require the use of evidence-based practices and promote recovery from mental illnesses[.]” The final Bill required Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), in collaboration with the University of Washington, to develop a matrix or series of matrices that were, among other things, evidence based practices. Finally, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) was required to study the net cost of treatment vs. non-treatment of mental health and substance abuse to inform future legislative bills.
House Bill 1088 (2007 – 2008), which seeks to improve delivery of children's mental health services, established the Wraparound pilot program for treatment of youth and mandated the creation of the Children’s Evidence-Based Practice Institute (EBPI). See the complete history of the bill and Final Bill Report for more information. For information on the EBPI, click here.
For more detail on these and other legislation, please see the Washington Legislature website.
Notable Past Federal legislation related to Behavioral Health:
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, introduced by Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) September 15, 2008, would “connect and support relative caregivers, improve outcomes for children in foster care, provide for tribal foster care and adoption access, improve incentives for adoption, and for other purposes.” Keep an eye on the progress of H.R 6893 at the Library of Congress website.
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 “to require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans, and for other purposes.” This would improve access to mental health care, by making access to it equal to that of other types of health care in health plans. Keep an eye on the progress of H.R 6983 at the Library of Congress website.
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