Health care authority receives over $4 million in grants to respond to mental health issues from COVID-19

Adjusting to the terms of a post-COVID-19 world has been difficult for people the world over. Social distancing and staying at home often means losing the opportunity to physically connect with friends and family and can lead to increased stress and mental health issues.

The Washington State Health Care Authority has received over $4 million in federal funding to respond to such issues. The grants are intended to help state residents have access to counseling and substance abuse treatment.

“As Washington residents grapple with the stress and uncertainties of this time, we need to be sure there is an adequate support system to meet their needs and help them cope,” HCA Director Sue Birch said. “These grants will create and contribute to services to help our families, friends and neighbors during these times.”

The state has received $2.2 million in a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant through FEMA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The funds are targeted for a program called Washington Listens, which will reach out to those affected by the stress of the pandemic.

The money is intended to relieve overburdened, already existing crisis networks by providing an outlet for people to deal with their stress. A number of regional partners are involved, including the Suquamish Tribe.

Another $2 million grant through SAMHSA will be available for substance abuse and mental health treatment for those who do not have health care coverage, or whose insurance does not cover their treatment needs.

The state’s health care authority will contract with regional health administrative service organizations to expand treatment and access.

“This is a time of great stress, uncertainty and isolation, and we must ensure that the well-being of Washingtonians is addressed,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement. “That includes making sure they can get the mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment they need. These new resources will help meet the needs of residents as we all navigate this unprecedented, challenging time.”