Washington state should prioritize mental health funding even if it means raising revenue.
The costs of mental illness are seen everywhere - in our prisons, jails, emergency rooms and the demand for human services. Pierce County has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Beyond the public costs, businesses lose billions of dollars yearly in lost productivity and absenteeism.
With all the costs of untreated mental illness, funding for mental health care should be a top priority for our county and state.
The state has made some smart choices regarding mental health recently. We support the integration of mental health, chemical dependency and primary health care. But this new health care system needs to be adequately funded by the state.
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The Washington Supreme Court has told the Legislature it is failing to provide adequate crisis mental health, but the smarter investment would be mental health options for people before they're in crisis.
As the Legislature works on the budget, the Pierce County Human Services Coalition, a coalition of 80 human services providers, asks legislators to make smart investments and prioritize mental health funding.
(Brown is advocacy chair for the Pierce County Human Services Coalition. Bob Winslow is president of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Pierce County.)