Report: Addressing the gaps in youth mental health care across Washington

Report: Addressing the gaps in youth mental health care across Washington

In 2022, Children’s Alliance convened a small workgroup of youth behavioral health experts in Washington to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the youth behavioral health landscape, and to identify potential programmatic and policy solutions that could help narrow the gaps that many of our state’s kids face in getting the care they need. 

Their resulting report quantifies the existing gaps for youth in Washington’s behavioral health system in the areas of care seeking, provider availability, affordability, and treatment effectiveness. Then the report examines promising local and state solutions that have potential to mitigate the barriers in the near-term, as well as projects costs and implementation timelines of these solutions.

The takeaway: 

By expanding successful local initiatives, we estimate that Washington could address the majority of its youth care gap within a year or so, at an estimated cost of $25 million.

One example of a suggested system shift: group-based cognitive behavioral therapy can be as effective for adolescents as individual therapy. If only 14% of providers statewide transitioned from individual to group-based therapy, we would theoretically have enough therapist capacity to address the unmet need for therapy among adolescents in WA today.

Children’s Alliance is a WA advocacy group for kids. Their goal is to ensure that laws, policies and programs work for kids, and to hold leaders accountable until they secure the resources required to make all children safe and healthy. 

They convene the Early Education Alliance, to bring together organizations across the state that are working on giving all WA kids the “relationships, education, and opportunities they need to be thriving by the time they enter kindergarten.

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