Washington state currently ranks among the lowest in the nation in serving people with mental health challenges. Nearly half of all Washington counties do not have a single working psychiatrist. In addition, many of the state’s existing mental health professionals don’t accept public insurance payments, such as Medicaid. All this means that communities of color and low-income families are least likely to have access to mental health services.
A transformational $38 million gift to UW from Ballmer Group aims to change that by supporting a broad, collaborative response to the state’s behavioral health crisis. The gift strives to address the state of Washington’s serious workforce shortage in the community behavioral health safety net system — in large part by supporting statewide education and training innovations at partner institutions developed by the UW’s School of Social Work, UW’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center.
As part of the gift, $11.5 million will support three new initiatives led by UW Medicine, including:
- More than $3 million to the UW Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences to create an undergraduate training program for Behavioral Health Support Specialists (BHHS) in partnership with the state colleges.
- $5.5 million to the Behavioral Health Institute to establish statewide behavioral health apprenticeship programs for early and mid-career professionals in collaboration with community partners, including the King County Executive’s Office and The SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training Fund.
- $3 million for the Behavioral Health Institute to work closely with Washington state and community-partners on a redesign of Washington’s behavioral health crisis response system.
This investment from Ballmer Group comes on the heels of significant commitments from the legislature in the most recent session to address the mental health crisis in our state – including $200.5 million for the completion of the behavioral health teaching facility at UW Medical Center – Northwest.
Read more about how this gift aims to bolster the behavioral health workforce in Washington and inspire future, much-needed investment in our behavioral health infrastructure.