Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

DBHR Update

April 2014

Director's Note

By DBHR Director, Chris Imhoff


Help for those affected by the Oso mudslide: DSHS/DBHR is coordinating help for those experiencing emotional distress at this difficult time.  For support and referrals please contact the Volunteers of America Hotline at 1-800-584-3578. 

For general information, help with basic needs, or to volunteer for the information line, please call 211.  Our condolences go out to all those affected by this tragedy.


Adult Behavioral Health System Task Force

The first meeting of the Adult Behavioral Health System Task Force (2SSB 6312) will be April 22, 9-3:30, at the Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien.  For details and to sign up for notices of future meetings, visit  http://www.leg.wa.gov/jointcommittees/ABHS/Pages/default.aspx.   


2014 Legislative Session Overview

When the 2014 session adjourned on March 13, DBHR staff had analyzed 215 proposed bills related to behavioral health issues. We are very pleased that legislators approved new funding for some key initiatives, including community mental health services.  The following legislation passed and is waiting for Governor Inslee's signature - summaries of these bills are being finalized and will be added soon:


SHB 2195 - Involuntary Medication/Jails


ESHB 2315 - Suicide Prevention


2SHB 2627 - Increasing Access to Chemical Dependency Treatment


2SSB 6312 - Integrating Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Services


E2SHB 2572 - Health Care Purchasing and Transforming the Health Care Delivery System


Visit www.leg.wa.gov for more information about the 2014 session.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday that the makers of the flavored alcoholic beverage Four Loko have agreed not to market their alcoholic drinks to young adults.  Ferguson was one of 20 state attorneys general who accused Phusion Products of advertising to the underage.

The agreement prohibits the company from promoting binge drinking and from advertising on college campuses.  Phusion has also agreed to stop producing drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine.

Four Loko originally contained both alcohol and caffeine, but the company removed caffeine from the formula after Washington state banned the drink in 2010. That ban came after nine Central Washington University students became ill after drinking Four Loko at a party.  Read more ...

Help recognize consumer/peer leaders and television and film professionals who educate the public about behavioral health. Their work and personal stories of resilience demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can and do recover and lead meaningful lives.

If you know of a consumer/peer leader who has made outstanding contributions in all of the following areas, please nominate that person for a 2014 Voice Award.

  • Personally demonstrated that recovery is real and possible.
  • Led efforts to reduce the discrimination and misperceptions associated with behavioral health problems.
  • Made a positive impact on communities, workplaces, or schools.

Similarly, if you know of a television or film production that aired in a public setting after April 15, 2013, which contains a positive behavioral health story line, please nominate it for a 2014 Voice Award.
All nominations are due by Friday, April 18.

The 2014 theme is the behavioral health of young adults and their experiences in dealing with mental and/or substance use disorders. Special consideration will be given to young adults, as well as consumer/peer leaders who educate about the needs of young adults to seek services and supports that enable recovery.

The number of retailers in Washington illegally selling tobacco to minors is high for the second year in a row. An annual report that tracks illegal sales shows about 15 percent of tobacco retailers sold tobacco to minors in 2013 — that’s about the same as it was in 2012. As recently as 2009 the rate was much lower, at about 9 percent.

“It’s unacceptable that more than one in seven retailers in our state illegally sells tobacco to minors,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “Stopping youth from buying tobacco is one of the best prevention tools we have. It only works when retailers follow the law. They must do better. The health of Washington’s youth is at stake.”

Youth who smoke are more likely to smoke as adults and die prematurely from a smoking-caused disease. They are also more likely to have other challenges such as poor grades and illegal drug use. About 85 percent of Washington adult smokers start at or before age 18.  Read more...

In response to the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, The Colorado Department of Transportaion  launched a new education campaign on marijuana impaired driving. Click here for campaign materials.

This May, Drug Courts throughout the country will once again celebrate National Drug Court Month by holding graduations and special community events. This month is designed to show the collective impact of Drug Courts, DWI Courts, and Veterans Treatment Courts. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Drug Courts.  For resources to raise awareness about the benefits of drug court, visit the NADCP resource center.

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This observance is powered by communities nationwide that host prevention-themed events to:

  • Increase the visibility of behavioral health and the benefits of prevention.
  • Provide a forum to educate the public.
  • Create opportunities for networking and collaboration.

If you're already planning a prevention event for this year, consider connecting it to National Prevention Week 2014. Capitalize on the momentum and exposure of this national movement. Haven't started planning your event? It's not too late! SAMHSA provides planning tips and tools to help you organize a prevention-focused event in your community.

Oxford House Allows People to Experience Many Firsts

By Kasandra, a resident of a Washington Oxford House

Oxford House helped me save my life.  I have had the chance to experience so many “firsts” thanks to living in an Oxford House for the last year and a half.  I learned how to be self-supporting, how to keep a job, how to drive, and how to be an active member of society. 

I have also had the opportunity to travel across the country for the first time to be a part of the 2013 Oxford House World Convention in Washington, D.C.  That experience was definitely the most exciting and interesting thing I have done so far.  I am so grateful for my first chapter sending me. 

Attending the World Convention solidified my passion for Oxford House.  I had the opportunity to hear other member’s experiences, strengths, and hope from all over our country and even other parts of the world.  I learned so much in the variety of panels and general sessions I attended, and felt proud to bring that information back to my chapter.  It was amazing to see how huge our Oxford House family is.  I felt an overwhelming sense of fellowship throughout the entire convention.  All in all, it was a great experience and I look forward to attending the 2014 Convention in Portland, Oregon!

Another important mental health reform gets delayed

Cut in funding could close county detox center

Seattle Times Editorial: Integrate MH with primary care

Liquor privatization has reshaped youth alcohol perceptions

New mental health program for kids to cost nearly $40M a year

Mental health services to expand July 1

State to boost care for Medicaid youths

Feds knock how state administers mental health services

Feds make hash of state's mental health system

Feds put state's mental health system in jeopardy

Special report: boarding the mentally ill

Heroin use spikes in young adults, UW report says

Will state budget make mental health “boarding” crisis worse?

Help Washington state teens have a graduation to remember

Notable gains on mental health in state legislature

Medicaid improved mental health for uninsured

Town hall about underage drinking

State's mental health reform focuses on preventive care

Get kids mental health care instead of sending to juvenile courts

Legislature heeds call for mental health reform

Pot more popular than cigarettes

State survey on kids' attitudes toward pot, thoughts of suicide

Experts warn effects of drinking impact us faster as we age

Can mental health treatment help halt gun violence?

Bill tackles alcohol poisoning among underage drinkers

Painful tales of mental illness spur lawmakers to action

Government Agency Feels Brunt of Increased Gun Permit Applications

The Consequences of Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Bring Mental Illness Out of the Shadows

Mental health funds sought as help falls short

Time to Overhaul Washington State's Broken Mental Health System

New Plan to Avoid ER Visits Could Save State $31 Million

Changing How We Talk About Mental Illness

Prevent Active Duty Military from Committing Suicide

We need to nurture young brains

March:  Washington's Attorney General Confirms Cities Can Ban Marijuana Businesses. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has issued a Formal Opinion indicating that cities and counties can formally or effectively ban a marijuana business from their jurisdiction.  The state Liquor Control Board is not yet sure how this opinion will change the implementation of Initiative 502.  For future updates on I-502, vist www.liq.wa.gov.

February:  Fewer people in Washington died from prescription pain medication overdoses between 2008 and 2012, after an eightfold increase in the last decade. The overdose death rate dropped by 27 percent and the number of deaths went from 512 in 2008 to 388 in 2012; this was tempered by an increase in heroin deaths, which rose from 146 in 2008 to 231 in 2012.  Read more...

February:  SAMHSA’s newly-released publication, Behavioral Health, United States, 2012, the latest in a series of publications issued by SAMHSA biannually since 1980, provides in-depth information regarding the current status of the mental health and substance abuse field. It includes behavioral health statistics at the national and State levels from 40 different data sources.

February:  Two new publications, A Parent's Guide to Preventing Marijuana Use, and Marijuana: Know the Facts, are available at www.learnaboutmarijuanawa.org.  These and other resources will help you join the conversation that teens are already having, and be a source of accurate information

January:  SAMHSA recently launched Start the Talk, an interactive, online simulation tool that helps parents and caregivers of children ages 9 to 15 practice tough conversations about alcohol.


Washington State Expands Funding for Intensive Mental Health Services

The Department of Social and Health Services will distribute $23 million to Regional Support Networks across the state to improve the availability, access, quality and coordination of intensive mental health services. Starting July 1, 2014, as established in Senate Bill 5480, new standards for involuntary mental health treatment will take effect. The bill set aside funding to create specialized crisis services to address the expected increase in individuals accessing the mental health system.  Read more ...


Changes in Purchasing Behavioral Health Services for Medicaid Clients

DSHS and the Health Care Authority have been meeting with behavioral health professionals to hear suggestions for addressing procurement for Medicaid-funded behavioral health services.  Details are available on our Stakeholder Notices page.


The BRIDGES (Bringing Recovery into Diverse Groups through Engagement & Support) project is a three-year grant ($711,736 per year) from SAMHSA/ Center for Substance Abuse Treatment focusing on outreach and supportive housing services to individuals who are chronically homeless.   The primary objective of the project is to provide outreach and supportive housing services in three Washington communities through teams consisting of a housing specialist, an employment specialist and a peer navigator.   The DSHS Research and Data Analysis Division recently released their second annual report Permanent Options for Recovery-Centered Housing.

Final Rule on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity

On November 8, 2013 the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the final rule to implement the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  This ensures that health plan features such as co-pays, deductibles, and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for benefits for mental health/substance use disorders than they are for medical/surgical benefits.  The final rule can be viewed on the Federal Register website.   

More information is available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

2013 Exemplary Prevention Awards: 

During the Washington State Prevention Summit, Lt. Governor Brad Owen presented the 2013 Exemplary Prevention Awards to the following individuals, coalitions, and organizations:

  • Katie Albaugh: Exemplary Youth Leader
  • Dayton High School’s Students Helping Each Other Club: Exemplary Youth Leadership Group
  • Victoria Marques: Exemplary Individual from a Youth Servicing Organization Involved in Prevention Work
  • Cathy Schindler: Exemplary Parent Partner Involved in Prevention Work
  • King County Board of Health’s Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return: Exemplary Local Government Involved in Prevention Work
  • Dwight and Janie Ballestrasse: Exemplary Business Partner Involved in Prevention Work
  • Inga Manskopf: Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Coordinator
  • Reardan-Edwall Communities Alliance for Prevention Coalition: Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition
  • Carol Owens, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ramona Leber, Lifetime Achievement Award


To read about their awards and see photos, visit www.PreventionSummit.org


WASBIRT launches new website: 

WASBIRT.com was launched November 15, 2013, by the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR).Agencies, providers, and others interested in screening and brief intervention can utilize WASBIRT.com as an all-encompassing toolbox for implementation, integration, and sustainment of SBIRT services. The website includes training guides, publications, billing/reimbursement information, treatment resources, traditional treatment referral options, links to additional SBIRT material and much more.

Youth assess new system of care implementation

DBHR has completed the first year of a four-year grant to implement an integrated system of care for youth with mental health challenges and their families that improves the delivery and outcomes for behavioral health services. To assess progress on implementing system of care values, principles, services and supports in Washington State, 12 youth from across the state conducted 72 interviews with youth and family members, and providers and administrators from child-serving mental health, substance abuse, juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, schools, and child welfare systems.


The good news is that with only one year of statewide implementation, we are at a “moderate” level of implementation in each of the five assessed areas.This provides a solid baseline on which to improve. The results are being shared statewide with Family, Youth, System Partner Roundtables.  Each region will decide how to focus their improvement efforts in the coming year. In 2014, the youth will reconvene and plan their approach to assessment for a second year. For more information contactKathy Smith-DiJulio at smithkl1@dshs.wa.gov. or Tamara J ohnson at tamara.johnson@wsu.edu.

Prescription Monitoring Program

The PMP program collects information on the purchases of pain medications and other potentially dangerous medicines. The information comes from pharmacies and health care providers. It is then used to help improve patient safety and reduce prescription drug misuse.   D ata collection began in 2011, and health care providers started requesting information in January 2012. By the end of June 2013, more than 9,000 prescribers and 2,900 pharmacists were using the program, which averages more than 900,000 records per month. It now holds more than 22.8 million prescription records. So far, pharmacists, prescribers, and prescriber delegates have made more than 700,000 patient history requests. In 2012, more than 2.3 million Washingtonians filled at least one prescription for a controlled substance. Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (the generic form of Vicodin, a pain reliever) is the most dispensed controlled substance and makes up roughly 25 percent of all the prescriptions we collect.  There were more than 156 million pills dispensed for this drug in 2012, enough for each person in the state to receive 23 pills.  You can find more information on the program, also known as Prescription Review, online atwww.doh.wa.gov/PMP . Contact  Chris Baumgartner, 360-236-4806, for more information.

A new Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Healt h is designed to be a resource to help those interested in holding a community dialogue about mental health. It is comprised of three parts that will help communities and groups plan and facilitate a dialogue about mental health.  Read more...

There's No Trick To Keeping Teens Away from Alcohol

There’s no trick and there’s no treat when it comes to underage drinking on Halloween.  The spookiest holiday of the year is also considered one of the biggest drinking holidays, so it’s no surprise that the alcohol industry wants to cash in on getting into the spirit.  Unfortunately, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth researchers have found that that there is a link between minors who recognize advertisements for beer and spirits and the likelihood of them drinking.   See more...       


September is National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery

Governor Inslee has proclaimed September as Recovery Month in Washington. The proclamation may be added to websites and shared at events in your community.

A mental health or substance use problem can affect anyone.  These conditions do not discriminate by age, race, ethnicity, gender, or income status, and are as prevalent as many other health issues. 

Each September the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors Recovery Month to promote the benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery for mental and substance use disorders.  Find out how to get involved, and access outreach materials at www.RecoveryMonth.gov.

Overdose awareness

Fatal medication and drug overdoses have surpassed traffic fatalities in Washington State.  Governor Inslee has declared August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in Washington State, and encourages families and communities to learn how to prevent and intervene in overdoses at www.stopoverdose.org.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has just released an Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit, with materials to develop policies and practices for preventing overdoses and deaths.  The toolkit is intended for first responders, treatment providers, and those recovering from opioid overdose.    

The University of Washington recently completed an info brief on heroin trends in Washington.

Health Care Authority, DSHS Launch Health Homes on July 1

Two state agencies will combine forces on July 1 to launch the state’s first Health
Homes — an enhanced delivery system for health care services. The Department of Social and Health Services and the Health Care Authority have been collaborating on the initiative with federal partners for almost three years, and the project has received solid input and strong support from local health jurisdictions, health care providers and advocates. Read more…

State death rate from RX pain medication overdose drops 23 percent

This state Department of Health announced the good news that  several key initiatives, involving many partners across our state, are working to reduce overdose deaths.  Fewer people in Washington died from prescription pain medication overdoses from 2008 to 2011, after an eightfold increase in deaths in the decade before. The overdose death rate dropped 23 percent, and the number of deaths dropped from 512 in 2008 to 407 in 2011.  Read more...

New website for communicating outcomes, performance and evaluation

A new website (www.scopewa.net) is available to all DASA-TA and MHD-PI users. The System for Communicating Outcomes, Performance and Evaluation (SCOPE) will combine the functionality of the other two services into a single site. With a single login, you will be able to run both mental health and substance abuse related reports. All reports available on the two older sites will be available on SCOPE.

Statewide news release: 2012 Healthy Youth Survey

Fewer teens use tobacco and alcohol; many need support for depressive feelings

Fewer students are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, according to a recent survey of kids in our state. At the same time, a large number of students seriously considered suicide in the past year. The number of secondary school students who believe using marijuana is risky dropped to the lowest level since the state started collecting data.

The Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 in more than 1,000 public schools in Washington. More than 200,000 youth took part in the survey in October 2012 by answering a wide variety of questions about their health and health behaviors. All responses were voluntary and anonymous. The Healthy Youth Survey provides communities with needed information to make solid decisions about which health issues to focus on.  Read more...

DBHR's Children's Mental Health Key Activities for 2013-2014  has been finalized.  Thank you to all stakeholders who submitted thoughtful feedback.

DBHR Recognized by CADCA: CADCA has named the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery its 2013 oustanding state member.  In their award letter CADCA wrote that "DBHR has rightfully earned this esteemed honor as a result of your commitment to community substance abuse prevention coalitions, continued work and support of the Drug Free Communities program, the implementation of the Prevention System Redesign as well as your significant investment through training and technical assistance to local leaders."  Read more...


Workshop Feb 6  for Rule Changes: Residential Treatment Facilities 

The Department of Health withdrew the CR 101 statement of inquiry for chapter 246-337 which was filed August 18, 2010.  The original intent of that pre proposal was to update the residential treatment facility (RTF) rules to reflect federal and state regulatory changes and current business and professional practices.  Since that filing and five rules workshops, the department recognizes the additional need to consider the scope of places the RTF regulations and standards should be applied to, and to address 2011 legislation establishing the licensure of triage facilities.  The department filed a revised CR 101 on October 31, 2012 that expanded the scope of the proposed rule making.  The department will host rule workshops whereby interested parties are encourage to participate in the updating of the rules.  A RTF rules workshop will be held on February 6, 2012.  If you have any questions, please contact program manager, Barbara Runyon at (360) 236-2937 or email Barbara.runyon@doh.wa.gov.