Early in 2011, Washington state legislators convened to confront a state budget crisis in early 2011. Mental health care providers resolved to do everything they could to protect their clients from the preventable tragedies they knew could result from further cuts to essential safety-net services. As part of their efforts, I researched and wrote this white paper for policymakers.
The vast majority of people living with mental illness are peaceful, functioning members of their community, posing no risk to themselves or others. This is because treatment works, when dedicated mental healthcare professionals are available to provide it. But Washington’s systems are falling short — reaching barely half of low-income residents in need of state-funded mental health services. When this frayed safety net fails, some people will lose control–sometimes with tragic results.