Mission / History


The Division of Public Behavioral Health Policy and Justice Policy was originally established in 1982 through a Washington State Legislative proviso. It was a time when the media described the mental health sytem “in turmoil” and the University was seen as not playing a sufficient role in training professionals to respond to the need of individuals with serious and persistent mental illness who were served in the public sector. At the request of key legislators and the leadership of the University of Washington Medical School a proviso was designed to improve recruitment and retention of mental health professionals who would choose careers in the public sector and to provide technical assistance to the legislature and executive branch on issues related to behavioral health and justice policy. In addition, the Division was intended to serve as a resource to the state by conducting research on services and systems related to public behavioral health, and to provide continuing educational opportunities for providers and families statewide. The University now takes pride that our trainees are employed in significant numbers throughout the public behavioral system and our Division is seen as a center of excellence to the State for policy direction, research and professional training.


The Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy (PBHJP) is committed to improving the health and well-being of children, families, and adults served by the mental health, chemical dependency, child welfare, and justice systems. We aim to achieve this mission by implementing, supporting, and evaluating effective interventions, empirically based training, and research that addresses priority issues where empirical data significantly informs policy. We are dedicated to helping individuals and families overcome challenges by emphasizing their strengths and enhancing their skills.

Core values

We aim to accomplish this mission through commitment to several core values:

  • Relevance & Credibility – Using science to support “real world” policy and practice decisions,
  • Partnership – Soliciting wisdom and community perspectives from our stakeholders and engaging them in dialogs around our mission, and
  • Sustainability – Helping communities and partner agencies build infrastructures that allow them to effectively improve outcomes over the long term.


We are also dedicated to conducting our work…

  • With respect and support for one another,
  • With enthusiasm for the cause of helping others,
  • With a willingness to take on difficult challenges, and
  • With integrity and a continual striving for excellence

One of the views of Eastlake cherry trees from our Seattle offices.