Washington State House Democrats


Critical Behavioral Health Workforce Bill Clears House Unanimously

OLYMPIA — Workforce shortages are plaguing nearly every industry in Washington, and that’s especially true for the state’s behavioral health professions. Today, the Washington House of Representatives passed House Bill 1724, introduced by State Rep. Jessica Bateman (D-Olympia), to close this gap. 

“Unprecedented workforce shortages are crippling our state’s response to our growing behavioral & mental health crisis,” said Bateman. “Families throughout the state are struggling to find access to mental health counselors, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers for the services they desperately need. This bill will help us get qualified behavioral health practitioners into the field as quickly and safely as possible.”

HB 1724 creates a behavioral health associates placement program, establishes a stipend for out-of-pocket costs incurred by associates completing supervised experience requirements, and removes practice setting limitations for probationary licenses. The bill also requires the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTECB) to examine licensure requirements for several behavioral & mental health professions and recommend ways to remove barriers to entering and remaining in the workforce.

“This is a difficult time for many in our communities,” said Bateman. “This is one of the best ways to provide access to care when and where families need it.”

The bill passed the House unanimously. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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