OLYMPIA—Tomorrow, June 30th at noon, in a special “Thank you Luncheon” at FARESTART (700 Virginia Avenue, Seattle), Rep. Tina Orwall will be recognized as Legislator of the Year by the National Alliance on Mental Illness for her outstanding work in a landmark suicide prevention training measure.
Orwall’s legislation (ESHB 2366), which went into effect on June 7th, makes Washington the first state in the nation to require mental health professionals and other frontline care providers to receive training in suicide assessment, treatment and management.
“It will be an incredible honor to be recognized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness,” said the Des Moines Democrat about the award she is eager to accept. “I strongly support and respect the work NAMI does advocating for people who struggle with mental illness and their families. This new law is an important first step to ensure that all mental health providers have the fundamental skills to assess and treat persons who are suicidal, and prevent the tragic loss of life.”
The bill faced some hurdles on its way to Governor Gregoire’s desk, but they were overcome with Orwall’s hard and focused work, and the help and support from professional associations, suicide prevention experts, advocacy organizations, veterans groups and individuals personally affected by suicide. It passed by overwhelming margins and was signed into law March 29.
“We commend Representative Tina Orwall for her successful efforts to pass this critical law to ensure that mental health professionals receive suicide prevention training as part of their continuing education requirements,” said Lisa Utter, NAMI Washington Program Manager. “Representative Orwall worked closely with Jennifer Stuber, who became a widow following her husband’s suicide, to build a strong coalition and, despite facing some opposition, she managed to effectively shepherd the bill to passage, a rare event in the just-past short and contentious legislative session.”
Orwall’s measure, dubbed the Matt Adler Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management Act of 2012, is named for a 40-year-old Seattle attorney, husband and father of two, who took his own life in February 2011 in the midst of a battle with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. His widow, University of Washington social work professor Jennifer Stuber, believes early detection and competent care in the treatment of suicidal thoughts could have saved his life.
The law requires mental health professionals, social workers and occupational therapists to receive six hours of training every six years starting in 2014. For more information on Orwall’s legislation, please go to the Frequently Asked Questions document available here.