OLYMPIA — Four bills to improve Washington state’s behavioral health system passed the Senate unanimously this week.
“Over the last six years we have been working to build capacity for services across the behavioral health crisis continuum: A Place to Call, Someone to Come, A Safe Place to Be,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and sponsor of the legislation. “The 988 system is the place to call. Mobile rapid response crisis teams and community-based crisis teams are the someone to come. The crisis relief system is the safe place to be. The bills we passed unanimously this week address each of those areas of the crisis continuum.”
A Place to Call
SB 6308 will ensure the technology and integrated data platforms our 988 call centers need deliver the information critical to providing seamless, person-centered service.
Someone to Come
SB 6251 would ensure we develop regionalized coordinated behavioral health crisis response plans across our state. The Behavioral Health – Administrative Services Organizations are tasked with establishing comprehensive plans for mobile rapid response crisis teams and community-based crisis teams in their respective regions.
A Safe Place to Be
SB 6228 would remove hidden barriers preventing patients from accessing the treatment they need. Currently, the average length of stay for an inpatient treatment is 11 days. This bill ensures individuals get authorization for at least 14 days of inpatient treatment and then at least seven days after the next insurance review. The bill also caps certification fees and cuts red tape so our state’s behavioral health workforce can grow more quickly.
SB 5853 would expand the state’s new system of crisis relief centers (CRCs), which currently serves adults only, to provide separate facilities for minors. A CRC is a new type of community-based facility licensed or certified by the Department of Health. CRCs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering immediate mental health and substance abuse care to adults for up to 24 hours, as well as referrals to further care. A CRC must accept walk-ins, first-responder drop-offs, and referrals from the 988 system. The CRC system for adults was established in 2023 by SB 5120.
All four bills now move to the House for consideration.