As a member of a House leadership task force on mental health, I have been discussing needed improvements and system changes for our mental health system on top of the significant investments in this biennial budget. During discussions, it became clear that we needed a subgroup on children’s mental health as well. Too many children experiencing trauma or mental illness are going unidentified and untreated.
There are numerous questions about the barriers that exist for treatment of our children. Is care provided timely and effectively throughout the state? Should we expand behavioral health screenings to be covered by Medicaid? Are there enough child-focused mental health providers? Is school-based delivery or identification of mental health needs an effective strategy? These are questions we’re asking and hope to address in the coming months. Because in the end, making sure the mental health of our children is addressed and properly taken care of is just as important as their physical health.
I continue to work on advancing social-emotional learning (SEL), which ensures that students can better handle stress, create and maintain healthy relationships, and identify and self-regulate feelings and behavior—providing a foundation of mental well-being. As I talk more about SEL with teachers, social workers and the business community, it is clear that SEL is necessary for healthier learning environments and for the 21st century workplace. The workgroup I secured funding for in the state budget kicked off last week, working to develop benchmarks for SEL across the state. This is a great first step, with more to come.
Fall has been a great month for festivals and events around our District. Whether it’s Art UnCorked on Mercer Island, Newcastle Days up in Newcastle, or Salmon Days in Issaquah, our diverse community reflects the best our State has to offer. Here are a few photos I took during Salmon Days, if you’ve never had the chance to go, make sure you don’t miss it next year!
As always, thank you for all the advocacy e-mails, phone calls, and letters I’ve received; making your voice heard is essential to the work we do here – so keep it up! Of course, if you have any specific questions about a bill or legislative issue, please don’t hesitate to write and ask.