Student Mental Health Resources and Unemployment Benefits

Friends and neighbors,

Thank you to everyone who joined Sen. Lovelett, Reps. Lekanoff, Ramel, Shewmake, and me for a Northwest Washington Regional Facebook town hall earlier this week. We answered questions about our state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, transportation, mental and behavioral health, the economy, agriculture, and much more. It was a great turnout and I appreciate that over 1,400 people joined the conversation. You can find a link to the recorded version of that conversation on my Facebook page.

Youth Mental Health During Social Distancing

During the event, I answered a question about resources for students facing mental and behavioral health challenges during isolation.

Though social distancing practices are one of the best ways to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the stress and lack of human interaction can also have negative impacts on our behavioral health. Our K-12 and college students may be feeling isolated during the school closures, we need to help them overcome these challenges. This conversation is even more timely as it is mental health awareness month.

OSPI has resources for parents and caregivers who are worried about their children and teens during this difficult time. This web page has great information about mental health and safety, coping with anxiety, and recognizing warning signs in young people.

Tips for Accessing Unemployment Benefits

The Employment Security Department (ESD) is experiencing historically high volumes of Washingtonians seeking much-needed unemployment benefits. ESD is working hard to expand capacity and update technology, but their web pages are loading slowly, and call wait times are long. I understand that this is frustrating. Here are a few tips for minimizing delays and successfully applying for benefits.

First, everyone who is eligible will get their money – the funds will not run out – and will be paid retroactively to the date of eligibility.

Prepare: Carefully read the instructions, watch ESD’s training videos, and use ESD’s checklist to help gather all the necessary documents to avoid delays.

Try the website first: Though it is loading slowly, it is still the quickest option for applying for benefits, answering questions, and getting basic information. If you have a problem that can only be solved over the phone, please keep trying. Thousands of people are getting through to ESD by phone every day.

Timing: It may be easier to apply during off-peak hours. Use a laptop or desktop if you can, and only try reloading twice in 10 minutes.

Keep in touch: Subscribe to receive email updates from ESD about their COVID-19 response.

Find answers to frequently asked questions here

Face Mask Challenge

Please don’t forget to wear a face mask when you’re out and about! Face masks can help keep us from infecting others. Remember to continue physical distancing and wash your hands. The Department of Health also recommends washing cloth face masks after each use.

Many of our friends and neighbors are working hard to sew cloth face masks for organizations that need them most, like nursing homes, shelters, food banks, grocery stores, restaurants, and more. I’ve been so encouraged by their commitment. You can join them by participating in the Lieutenant Governor’s Washington Mask Challenge! Learn more about how you can make and donate cloth masks here.

Election Year Restrictions

During an election year, there are certain restrictions on my communications to prevent the use of state resources for election purposes. One of these restrictions is a freeze on this website, meaning no new content can be added beginning May 11, 2020 until after the general election in November. If you have questions or comments about legislative issues, please feel free to continue to contact me. The best way to get in touch is by email,

There is still much work to do, and I’m committed to working hard to support our region during this difficult time. I’m here to support you both here and in Olympia.

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, ideas, or concerns. Please reach out.

Thank you, stay healthy, and stay safe.

Rep. Dave Paul,