Parents and young people – Help shape mental health and substance use policy and programs!

Join the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group’s efforts to improve mental health and substance use/alcohol treatment services and supports for children, young people through age 25, and their families.

There are several opportunities for you to participate:

  1. The Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group (CYBHWG)
  2. The Prenatal-25 Behavioral Health Strategic Plan Advisory Group (P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group)
  3. The P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group parent/caregiver and youth/young adult subcommittees

These opportunities are described more fully below. 

  • To become a member of the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group (CYBHWG) or the P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group, you must nominate yourself/apply. Information about how to nominate and/or apply is included below (attached form for CYBHWG and survey links for P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group).
  • The P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group parent/caregiver and youth/young adult subcommittees are open to all and information to sign up to join these meetings is also included below.

Please note the following supports that are available:

  • Most parent/caregiver and youth/young adult members of the CYBHWG and the SPAG may receive payment for attending meetings.
  • All parent/caregiver and youth/young adult attendees at the strategic plan subcommittee meetings described below who meet the above criteria may receive payment for attending meetings.
  • Child and elder care, as well as travel expenses for in-person meetings, are also covered.
  • Translation and interpreter services are available, if arranged in advance.

We can’t improve the system without you – your experience and wisdom will ensure that these services truly look and feel like help to those who seek them.

If you have questions or need more information, please send an email to

1. Children & Youth Behavioral Health Work Group (CYBHWG)

The CYBHWG currently has openings for one parent or caregiver and two young people between the ages of 13 and 29 who have had experience with mental health or drug and alcohol-related programs or services.

The CYBHWG is a group of legislators, state agency representatives, health care providers, tribal governments, community behavioral health services, advocates, young people who have received behavioral health services (mental health and/or substance use/alcohol treatment), and parents of children and young people who have received services. Each year this group provides recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature to improve behavioral health services and strategies for children, youth, young adults, and their families – and each year many of these recommendations are passed into law.

Additional Details
Time commitment: Attend up to eight 3-4 hour CYBHWG meetings per year and one 3-hour member retreat. Most meetings are virtual (held on Zoom). All in-person meetings include a virtual option.

Term: Member terms may not exceed 3 years.

Application deadline: Wednesday, May 8, 2024

To nominate yourself: Please use the attached 2024 CYBHWG nomination form.

To nominate someone else: Please send their name and why you think they should be on the CYBHWG to and, and cc the person you’re nominating.

CYBHWG meetings are open public meetings. Each meeting includes a public comment period; some also include breakout groups in which non-members can participate. 

2. Prenatal-25 Behavioral Health Strategic Plan Advisory Group

The CYBHWG is currently developing a statewide strategic plan to improve the behavioral health system for all of Washington’s children, youth, young adults, and their families.

The goals for the Prenatal-25 Strategic Plan:

  • Develop a long-term system-wide strategy and roadmap to build robust, equitable services and supports from prevention through intensive inpatient services.
  • Engage deeply with communities and stakeholders and sustain an ongoing feedback loop.
  • Drive tangible improvements along the way.

Its guiding principles include:

  • No wrong door.
  • Help that looks like help.
  • Informed by children, youth and families that utilize services
  • Oriented toward prevention to avoid future crises and reduce the need for more intensive services

The P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group is made up of parents, young people, and system partners. The advisory group will serve as a platform to bring all partners together to find common ground and develop collective suggestions.

Additional Details
Time commitment: Up to five 3-4 hour meetings per year and one 3-hour member retreat, plus review of draft documents and other materials as needed.
Most meetings are virtual (held on Zoom). All in-person meetings include a virtual option.

Term: Member terms may not exceed 2 years.

Application deadline: extended to Wednesday, May 8, 2024

To apply for membership on the P-25 Strategic Plan Advisory Group, please use the links below:

To nominate someone else: Please send their name and why you think they should be on the CYBHWG to and, and cc the person you’re nominating.

3.The Prenatal-25 Spag Parent/Caregiver And Youth/Young Adult Subcommittees

Come to our monthly Parent/Caregiver and Youth/Young Adult subcommittees!
Throughout the year, we will be holding monthly 1-2 hour meetings to share progress and plans and get your ideas and input. Every meeting is open to any parent or young person who wants to attend; there are no appointed members. We will begin scheduling these meetings in May. If you are interested in participating in one of these subcommittees, please send email to and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

Additional Details
Time commitment: Attend monthly 1-2 hour meetings, as you are available.
We welcome your participation, even if you can only attend occasionally.

Presentation To Your Group or Organization

We are happy to come to your group’s meetings or gatherings – in person or virtually – to share information about the Prenatal-25 Strategic Plan and get your ideas for how to create a better system. Please email if you know of groups or people we should connect with.

We are grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with young people, parents, and community members.

Youth and Parents Needed for Mobile Study to Support Mental Health

Who’s Eligible?

  • Youth (15-21 y/o) and their Parents/Guardians
  • Both fluent in English
  • Both have a smartphone
  • Living in same household 5 days/week
  • Youth Involved with Juvenile Justice (probation, re-entry services, etc.)
  • Youth has been depressed, suicidal, or engaged in self-harm

What’s Involved?

  • Youth + Parent/Legal Guardian will use a mobile phone app together for 4 months
  • Participate in 4 virtual meetings over 4 months

For more information, view the flyer: RCT Flyer

New KFF Analysis Shows Number of Suicide Deaths at Record Levels

From 2011 to 2022, over half a million lives (539,810) were lost to suicide, with 2022 showing the highest number of deaths on record. Within this period, the adjusted suicide rate increased by 16%. Recognizing the mounting mental health crisis and demand for accessible crisis care, the federal government introduced a new crisis number, 988available nationwide in July 2022. This easy to remember three-digit number connects callers who are suicidal or experiencing a mental health emergency to a crisis counselor at one of 200+ local crisis call centers. There, they may access crisis counseling, resources, referrals, and connections to other crisis services. Though suicide deaths slowed in 2019 and 2020, they began to increase again in 2021 and 2022, but the cause of this recent rise in suicides is unclear.

Key takeaways from an analysis of aggregate provisional data from 2022 and CDC WONDER data from 2011 to 2021, which represents the most recent and comprehensive data available before the mid-2022 launch of 988, include the following:

  • CDC’s provisional data for 2022 show a record high of 49,369 suicide deaths, coming after modest declines in 2019 and 2020.
  • In 2022, provisional data indicates the highest number of gun-related suicides on record; increases in firearm suicides are driving the increases in overall suicide deaths in recent years.
  • Suicide death rates in 2021 were highest among American Indian and Alaska Native people, males, and people who live in rural areas.
  • Suicide deaths are increasing fastest among people of color, younger people, and those who live in rural areas with many groups seeing increases of 30% or more from 2011 to 2021.
  • Suicide death rates varied considerably by state in 2021, as did the rate of change between 2011 and 2021.

Read the full report from KFF.

Input Needed for Crisis Intervention Systems for Youth with IDD

The National Association for the Dually Diagnosed has partnered with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors to conduct a study investigating services provided to teens and young adults who have intellectual/developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions (dual diagnosis).

The goal of this study is to identify best practices and improvements needed to ensure responsive, individualized and effective treatment and support for teens and youth with a dual diagnosis who are experiencing a crisis. NADD will utilize the information obtained from this study to identify strategies that build capacity within communities to better meet the needs of teens and youth who have intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health conditions.

We are seeking volunteers to complete a short survey and participate in a follow-up phone or video interview.

Volunteer requirements:

  • Must be a behavioral health/mental health professional, parent/advocate, educator, emergency services personnel or first responder.
  • Must reside within the United States.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must work with or have provided services to teens and youth with intellectual//developmental disabilities.
  • Must be able to read and understand English.

Additional information:

Survey, phone interviews and video sessions will be completed through Monday, July 17, 2023.

Participation is voluntary and all responses will be kept confidential. You may exit the online survey or interview at any time. Before you participate, you will be asked to electronically sign an adult consent form. To protect your privacy, no names or any personally identifiable information will be collected outside of coordinating your phone interview or video session.

Please click here to take the survey.

E-Cigs Are Still Flooding the US, Addicting Teens With Higher Nicotine Doses

When the FDA first asserted the authority to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, many people assumed the agency would quickly get rid of vapes with flavors like cotton candy, gummy bears, and Froot Loops that appeal to kids.

Instead, the FDA allowed all e-cigarettes already on the market to stay while their manufacturers applied for the OK to market them.

Seven years later, vaping has ballooned into an $8.2 billion industry, and manufacturers are flooding the market with thousands of products — most sold illegally and without FDA permission — that can be far more addictive.

“The FDA has failed to protect public health,” said Eric Lindblom, a former senior adviser to the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “It’s a tragedy.”

Yet the FDA isn’t the only entity that has tolerated the selling of vapes to kids.

Multiple players in and out of Washington have declined to act, tied the agency’s hands, or neglected to provide the FDA with needed resources. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump both have prevented the FDA from broadly banning candy-flavored vapes.

Meanwhile, today’s vapes have become “bigger, badder, and cheaper” than older models, said Robin Koval, CEO of the Truth Initiative, a tobacco control advocacy group. The enormous amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes — up 76% over five years — can addict kids in a matter of days, Koval said.

E-cigarettes in the U.S. now contain nicotine concentrations that are, on average, more than twice the level allowed in Canada and Europe. The U.S. sets no limits on the nicotine content of any tobacco product.

“We’ve never delivered this level of nicotine before,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which opposes youth vaping. “We really don’t know the long-term health implications.”

Elijah Stone was 19 when he tried his first e-cigarette at a party. He was a college freshman, grappling with depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and “looking for an escape.” Store clerks never asked for his ID.

Stone said he was “hooked instantly.”

Read the full article from KFF.

Understanding the U.S. Behavioral Health Workforce Shortage

Nearly half of all Americans will have a behavioral health issue in their lifetime, from a mood disorder to a substance use problem. Behavioral health care encompasses a wide variety of interventions delivered by many different types of providers. In the U.S., nearly all these providers are in short supply.

The scarcity of behavioral health professionals is undermining people’s ability to get timely care. This is reinforced by historical underinvestment in behavioral health care by public insurance programs (like Medicaid and Medicare), private insurers, and employers — including lack of coverage and low reimbursement rates. In 2021, fewer than half of people with a mental illness were able to access timely care; those with substance use disorders were even less likely. Some groups are disproportionately impacted by workforce shortages:

  • Many rural areas and economically stressed cities have few, if any, behavioral health care providers. For example, in 2018, more than half of the counties in the U.S. did not have a practicing psychiatrist. One study found that counties outside of metropolitan areas had one-third the supply of psychiatrists and half the supply of psychologists as their more urban counterparts. As of March 2023, 160 million Americans live in areas with mental health professional shortages, with over 8,000 more professionals needed to ensure an adequate supply.
  • People covered by Medicaid and, to a lesser extent, Medicare struggle to find providers that accept their insurance, in large part because of low reimbursement rates, particularly in Medicaid. One study found that in Oregon, more than half of the mental health providers listed in network directories of Medicaid managed care plans did not actually see Medicaid enrollees. This has profound implications for equitable access, as Medicaid is the nation’s largest payer of behavioral health services.
  • Underserved groups like people of color, non-English speakers, and LGBTQ communities often struggle to find appropriate services. As is the case with many other health care specialties, the demographics of the behavioral health workforce often do not reflect those of the people they serve. For example, while nearly one-third of the U.S. population is Black or Hispanic, only about a tenth of practicing psychiatrists come from these communities. This mismatch limits the ability of people to get culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

To better understand these shortages, we need to know who makes up the behavioral health workforce and the challenges they face in providing care to underserved communities.

Read the full article from the Commonwealth Fund.

Where to Start: Organizations That Parents and Caregivers can go to for Help and Support

When a new diagnosis is given or a new problem arises, many parents are at a loss for how to start helping their child. Thankfully, there are many organizations in Washington state that are ready to help families in a variety of different specializations. Here are some places to start.

For general parenting concerns, Parenting Trust for Washington Children provides education, advice, and resources for a variety of concerns. Parent Help 123 is able to help caregivers find benefits and services available to them and their families. They run a hotline at 1-800-322-2588. Families of Color Seattle (FOCS) connects families, caregivers, and children of color through peer-led parent support groups.

For families who have children are youth with special needs, the Arc of Washington advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Visit the Statewide Parent to Parent (P2P) website to see the local chapters of the Parent-to-Parent program.  The program matches families to those who have been in similar situations, to aid and support them in their journeys.  PAVE provides support, training, information, and resources to empower and give voice to individuals, youth, and families impacted by disabilities through several programs, including Person-Centered Planning, STOMP program for military families, and health information program.  Open Doors for Multicultural Families provides culturally and linguistically relevant information, services, and programming to culturally and linguistically diverse families of persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Washington Autism Alliance (WAA) extends access to healthcare, education and services for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s) and related intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Washington State.

For families working to get their child a proper education, contact PAVE’s Parent Training and Information (PTI) program, which helps family caregivers, youth, and professionals with questions about services for children and young people with disabilities, especially those concerting special education.

For those with children and youth with behavioral health issues, including mental health and substance abuse problems, the Center Of Parent Excellence (COPE Project), run by A Common Voice, was developed to provide a pathway for Washington State parents who are accessing and navigating the system to have independent peer support to ease their journey. For fathers, Dads M.O.V.E. was created to strengthen the father’s role in raising children with behavioral health needs through education, peer support and advocacy.

Teen Health Crisis

Adolescent Mental Health & Wellbeing

A new CDC report points to record levels of violence, trauma, and mental health concerns for teenagers, with girls and LGBQ+ youth faring more poorly (the survey did not ask about transgender identity). The findings highlight how the pandemic made things worse for many kids.

  • Violence: Violence puts adolescent lives at risk and can lead to mental health problems, risky behavior, and reduced academic success. The CDC report contains data on violence among high schoolers, including sexual violence, feeling unsafe at school, bullying, and cyberbullying.
  • Technology: High use of social media is associated with mental health problems. Social media impacts how teens interact with one another during a developmentally important time in life. According to new research, limiting social media usage can make teens feel better about their body image.
  • Supporting Mental Health: Young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are less likely to feel depressed with parental support. Additionally, public schools and states are taking steps to expand access to mental health services.

Read more at NIHCM.

Suicide Among People with Disabilities

We may make assumptions about people with disabilities’ risk for suicide. A 2021 report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found people with disabilities are more likely to think about, plan or attempt suicide than people without disabilities.

Please click the link below to learn more about:

  • Risk factors.
  • What you can do as a caregiver.
  • What to look for.
  • When to get help.

To see all other Care Provider Bulletins click here.

Suicide Among People with Disabilities

Using New Federal Funding to Meet Children’s Behavioral Health Needs in School

Since the pandemic began, there has been an increase in suicide rates among young people, particularly Black adolescents. Rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression have also continued to rise as the long-term impact of COVID-19 plays out. Seven of 10 public schools report that the number of students seeking mental health services has increased since 2020. With students back in the structured environment of school, educators are working overtime to meet their behavioral health needs. Fortunately, the federal government has responded with unprecedented levels of support and efforts are underway to help schools put these new or dramatically expanded resources to good use.

The American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) provides more than $122 billion to help pre-K through grade12 students recover from lost time in schools by supporting their mental health, as well as their social, emotional, and academic needs. Additionally, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 commits more than a billion dollars in the next five years to support schools in addressing youth behavioral health needs, including funding for school mental health workforce. The law also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education (DOE) to create a technical assistance center that will help states and schools better use Medicaid dollars for school-based services. In July 2022, DOE and HHS issued a joint letter to governors encouraging partnerships at state and local levels and outlining resources to support youth with behavioral health needs.

Read the full article from the Commonwealth Fund.