Expanding Community Behavioral Health Treatment

As folks with severe mental health and substance abuse problems spiral out of control, the county picks up the tab as jails become defacto mental health institutions. To prevent that from happening, there are state-funded crisis intervention teams who hopefully de-escalate the crisis. Ideally, there should be local providers who are trained professionals in the treatment of mental illness and others who work with addiction treatment to prevent the crisis in the first place. But if that isn’t enough, eventually first responders have to stabilize them and get them into the emergency room or to jail.


For those without private insurance, the state used to send Medicaid funds to regional support networks (RSNs) for mental health treatment and to other agencies for substance abuse treatment. RSNs were regularly reorganized by the state. Most recently our Southwest Washington RSN linked Skamania and Clark Counties with us. Unfortunately, Cowlitz County was regularly out-voted on that board and our clients began receiving fewer resources each year. At the last re-organization during which substance abuse treatment was added to the networks, I was tasked with negotiating a “divorce” from Clark County with the goal of sending a multi-million dollar reserve to cover Cowlitz clients to the new Behavioral Health Organization (BHO). That mission was accomplished.


weber4cowlitz.org             Authorized and Paid for by Weber For County Commissioner, PO Box 1042, Longview WA 9862