I currently serve as chair of the Human Services Ad Hoc Committee for the Pierce County Council. Also on the committee are Councilmembers Doug Richardson and Rick Talbert. The Pierce County Council hired the Human Services Research Institute (HRSI) last year to prepare a report that would identify behavioral health needs in Pierce County; catalog available behavioral health resources; determine behavioral health resource gaps; and provide recommendations for ensuring a comprehensive, cost-effective, and recovery oriented behavioral health system that meets the needs of Pierce County. The Human Services Ad Hoc Committee was created as a direct result of the HSRI report findings and the copious public testimony on behavioral health the council heard last fall.
As a council we see the need and hear the cry for organized and thoughtful planning and implementation of Human Service programs and services in Pierce County. We are working diligently to address some of the most immediate needs. Some of the specific items we are working on include:
- Council is hiring a Behavioral Health Analyst who will facilitate the Behavioral Health Coordinating Committee and be a county resource on behavioral health in Pierce County.
- We are assembling the Coordinating Committee. This committee will consist of representatives from county government, as well as leaders of behavioral health services providers and nonprofits. The committee will be responsible for ensuring a coordinated response to behavioral health in Pierce County. Assembling this committee was a key deliverable highlighted in the HSRI report and the behavioral health Committees of the Whole (COW) last fall. The HSRI report stated that Pierce County was doing many good things for behavioral health but Pierce County programs lacked integration among programs. We need to have better coordination!
- Currently, there is a great deal of success with the existing Mobile Outreach Crisis team which serves Pierce County residents 365 days a year 24/7. This 30 person team is not enough to serve the needs of our residents. By working with existing mobile outreach program we can make an immediate impact in addressing the county’s behavioral health needs. In that same vain, Councilmember Richardson and I will be proposing additional money in the substitute to help enhance the mobile crisis outreach program.
- Councilmember Derek Young and I are also in the process of assembling an opioid task force that will help address the opioid epidemic in Pierce County and places a significant strain on our behavioral health system.
We have examined the issue, we have heard public testimony again and again, and we have received recommendations from the HSRI study which all say we need to enhance and coordinate with existing programs and make an impact. And that is what we are doing…with more to come.