Re: “$500M mental health plan could be headed to ballot”, (TNT, 1/21).
I have been working in community mental health at Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare in Pierce County for 6 ½ years.
For the past several years, the legislative focus has appeared to be on the inpatient setting to include raises being given to the “front line nurses at Western State Hospital.”
Clients who are enrolled in community mental health often struggle with persistent mental illness and extreme poverty. This is a challenging population to work with, made more so by limited resources.
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While there has been an increase in state mental health funding, the vast majority of it has gone to the state hospitals.
With outpatient community mental health, reimbursement rates determine how much therapists and staff are paid. In my first three years in the field, my income was low enough that I qualified for economic deferment on my student loans.
The Legislature should be concerned with staff turnover in the outpatient setting, as the stability of therapists and quality of staff would help prevent hospitalization for many clients.