Behavorial Health Integration

Washington is changing how we­­­­ treat and pay for people with mental health and substance use disorders. Treating the whole person—mind and body—is more effective for achieving health. It’s also better for the state budget, because healthier people and communities lead to higher rates of employment, and lower costs in areas such as the correctional system and overall medical spending.

Gov. Inslee is taking several steps to accomplish this behavioral health transformation:

Strengthening the state psychiatric hospitals and redesigning the community-based behavioral health care system

Since Inslee came into office, more than $360 million has been invested in state funds for state hospitals. The state has added a combined 72 civil and forensic beds and hired nearly 760 more staff to improve both patient and staff safety and well-being, staff training, and the actual buildings themselves.

But investments alone won’t fix fundamental challenges of treating patients in a centuries-old system based on large institutions that take patients away from their families, friends and support systems.

That’s why the governor is pursuing a five-year plan to modernize and transform our state mental health system. His vision is to work with legislators to end civil patient placements at the state’s large hospitals by 2023 in favor of smaller community-based facilities.

Western State and Eastern State will continue to focus on serving forensic and certain hard-to-place civil commitment patients, while other patients will be served in the community through a combination of smaller, more cost-efficient, state-run programs that will be disbursed throughout the state and private community hospitals.

Integrating physical and behavioral health services for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) clients

For the nearly 2 million Washington residents enrolled in Apple Health, navigating separate systems to get the physical and behavioral health care they need has been challenging. Gov. Inslee requested legislation in 2014 to address this. By 2020, Apple Health clients statewide will have access to integrated services for their physical health, mental health and substance use disorders.

The goal is to offer services that are better coordinated and provide better health outcomes for patients.

As of July 1, 2018, the certification and licensing process for behavioral health providers was moved to the Department of Health. For more information, visit the department's website

Fighting the opioid public health crisis

Prescription opioids continue to be involved in more overdose deaths than any other drug, but opioid use disorder is a preventable and treatable disease. By bringing together the best data, resources and partners statewide, we can tackle the opioid public health crisis.

Gov. Inslee issued an executive order in 2016 bringing together state agencies, local public health organizations, law enforcement, tribal governments, and other partners to act on opioids. Our state’s interagency opioid plan drives the statewide strategies to address this issue.