Category Archives: Mental Health Services

Opioid Overdose: How to Respond

Learn about the opioid overdose epidemic and how you can respond in your community. The Center for Opioid Safety Education Program at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute provides information on overdose education, naloxone, and getting help at

A section for professionals including drug court, first responders, health care providers, pharmacists, and treatment providers has clinical guidelines and resources for prevention and education.

Watch the informative training videos here for a great overview of overdose prevention and interventions at Training videos.


It’s Time to Reframe How We Think About Education and Health

It’s Time to Reframe How We Think About Education and Health

May 17, 2016, 10:03 AM, Posted by Kristin Schubert


Kids spend more time at school than anywhere outside their homes, making schools where we have the greatest chance of improving kids’ health trajectory through physical, social and emotional development.

Read the article from the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health blog:

Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce Community Meeting

Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce Community Meeting: 

A free community conversation on heroin and prescription opiate overdose and addiction on May 31st in Renton, sponsored by the King County Heroin & Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force (formerly MHCADSD). This is a public event and your voice is needed!


community mtg

CDC Report: Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999-2014

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Responds to New CDC Report

Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999-2014
According to a joint statement prepared by partners of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, data in the new CDC report underscores why suicide prevention must remain a national public health priority. Read the statement for more from the Action Alliance

Essentials for Childhood

All children need healthy and supportive relationships and environments to help them learn and grow.

These relationships and environments are essential for lifelong health and success. When children experience trauma, violence, maltreatment, or adversity, it can cause toxic stress that can have a lifelong impact on their learning ability, brain development and health.

Fortunately, there are ways to enhance the natural strengths and resilience of children, families, and communities to prevent trauma and limit its impact. System-wide changes can create a healthy context for parents and caregivers, promote relationship health, and foster the development of positive, healthy outcomes for all children.

Essentials for Childhood Framework

Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments are essential to prevent child maltreatment and to assure children reach their full potential. The Essentials for Childhood Framework[PDF 5.5MB] proposes evidence-based strategies communities can consider to promote relationships and environments that help children grow up to be healthy and productive citizens so that they, in turn, can build stronger and safer families and communities for their children.



The Essentials for Childhood Framework is intended for communities committed to the positive development of children and families, and specifically to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. While child maltreatment is a significant public health problem, it is also a preventable one. The steps suggested in the Essentials for Childhood Framework — along with your commitment to preventing child maltreatment—can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive.

State Level Implementation of the Framework

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Violence Prevention is funding five state health departments in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington to implement the five strategies in Essentials for Childhood Framework. Specifically, state health departments will

  • Coordinate and manage existing and new partnerships with other child maltreatment prevention organizations and non-traditional partners;
  • Work with partners to identify strategies across sectors;
  • Identify, coordinate, monitor and report on the strategies implemented by multi-sector partners;
  • Coordinate improvement processes (e.g., continuous quality improvement) for multi-sector partners to refine strategies; and
  • Document state-level impact of these efforts.

Who is Involved
A wide variety of partners are working to carry out the EfC vision. These include a Steering Committee, staff at the Departments of Health and Early Learning, four workgroups, and partners across the state. This work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, private funders, and partners.

Stay Involved in EfC
The success of EfC depends on the collaboration of partners, communities, families, and individuals. If you are interested in receiving updates and learning how you can be more involved, email​.

Source: Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Documentary Reveals Success of Trauma-Informed Approach

Three years ago, the story about how Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tried a new approach to school discipline and saw suspensions drop 85% struck a nerve.

It went viral – twice — with more than 700,000 page views. Paper Tigers, a documentary that filmmaker James Redford did about the school — premiered on May 28, 2015 to a sold-out crowd at the Seattle International Film Festival. Hundreds of communities around the country are clamoring for screenings.

Paper Tigers captures the pain, the danger, the beauty, and the hopes of struggling teens—and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing their lives for the better.

After four years of implementing the new approach, Lincoln’s results were even more astounding: suspensions dropped 90%, there were no expulsions, and kids’ grades, test scores and graduation rates surged.

But many educators aren’t convinced. They ask: Can the teachers and staff at Lincoln explain what they did differently? Did it really help the kids who had the most problems – the most adverse experiences? Or is what happened at Lincoln High just a fluke? Can it be replicated in other schools?


Last year, Dr. Dario Longhi, a sociology researcher with long experience in measuring the effects of resilience-building practices in communities, set about answering those questions.

The results? Yes. Yes. No. And yes.

In case you don’t know Lincoln High School’s story, here’s a quick summary: In 2010, Jim Sporleder, then-principal of Lincoln High School, learned about the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and the neurobiology of toxic stress at a workshop in Spokane, WA. The ACE Study showed a link between 10 types of childhood trauma and the adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. The Children’s Resilience Initiative (CRI) organized a group of 30 people from Walla Walla, including Sporleder, to attend the workshop in Spokane. CRI is a community organization in Walla Walla that creates awareness about childhood adversity and encourages all sectors of the community – business, faith-based, corrections, law enforcement, education, etc. — to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices.

Here’s what Sporleder learned:

Severe and chronic trauma (such as living with an alcoholic parent, or watching in terror as your mom gets beat up) causes toxic stress in kids. Toxic stress damages kid’s brains. When trauma launches kids into flight, fight or fright mode, they cannot learn. It is physiologically impossible.

They can also act out (fight) or withdraw (flight or fright) in school; they often have trouble trusting adults or getting along with their peers. They start coping with anxiety, depression, anger and frustration by drinking or doing other drugs, having dangerous sex, over-eating, engaging in violence or thrill sports, and even over-achieving.

Sporleder said he realized that he’d been doing “everything wrong” in disciplining kids, and decided to turn Lincoln High into a trauma-informed school. 

Learn more about the results of Sporleder’s efforts here.

Source: ACES Too High News


Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among our nation’s teenagers. Every year, approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide.

Positive changes to the school climate and a student’s increased sense of connectedness to the school can result in improved academic achievement and healthy behaviors that foster a positive learning environment.

Learn how you can help

Download Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools, developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Suicide Prevention Toolkit for High Schools

This FREE Toolkit assists high schools and school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health. It includes tools to implement a multi-faceted suicide prevention program that responds to the needs and cultures of students and provides:

• Screening tools

• Information about warning signs and risk factors

• Parent education materials

• Research-based guidelines

• Resources to assist the whole community in its suicide prevention efforts that respond to the needs and cultures of high school students

• Practices to help identify students at risk of suicide

• Protocols to respond to suicide death

• Educational programs to engage youth in suicide prevention programs

• Recommended actions to increase parent and school community support for screening programs

Students helping students

See how students at Seattle’s Franklin High School implemented peer support through training by the Youth Suicide Prevention Program:


State youth suicide prevention plan updates

The Washington State Department of Health has been updating the youth suicide prevention plan – see the draft here.

Source: SAMSHA & KING5 Health Link

Mental Health Part of Overall Health at Seattle Schools

It used to be that students went to their school clinic to have their sore throat checked or get a vaccine. But many kids today have needs that go beyond physical health, whether it’s dealing with exposure to violence or having suicidal thoughts.

In response, a growing number of schools have started offering mental health services.

At Rainier Beach High School, Jen Kantor doesn’t always wait for students to come to her office. Sometimes she gets out and meets them where they are. Kantor is a therapist, a mental health counselor.

Jen Kantor has been mental health counselor at Rainier Beach High School for the past seven years. CREDIT KUOW PHOTO/RUBY DE LUNA
Jen Kantor has been mental health counselor at Rainier Beach High School for the past seven years. CREDIT KUOW PHOTO/RUBY DE LUNA

One afternoon she’s out in the hallway, trying to round up students for Girls’ Talk, enticing them with free lunch. The lunch time talk is confidential. Students can talk about whatever is on their minds. Today’s topic is race relations. Sometimes Kantor comes up with topics that might be relevant to them.  

“Right now we’re planning our groups for the rest of the year, focusing on domestic violence in relationships,” Kantor said. “There are some violence in teen relationships and we want to help kids know how to spot and identify things with regards to power and control in relationships.”

These lunch time talks take place twice a month. They’re part outreach, part prevention work. And they also let kids know Kantor’s office is always open to them. 

Keshia, 18, said mental health is just as important as physical health. For that, she appreciates having Kantor around. 

“If she wasn’t here, oh my gosh, I don’t know who I would talk to,” Keshia said. She declined to provide her last name. “For her to be here is a lot easier; everyone knows they have someone to talk to, they don’t have to hold it in, go home angry, come to school angry, and just have a bad attitude. Because some people don’t have someone to talk to at home or friends.” 

Kantor works for Group Health, and has been the counselor at Rainier Beach for the past seven years. She works with students on a range of problems, but issues of anxiety and depression come up a lot.

A Growing Trend

More and more schools are including mental health services as part of their health clinics. Often it’s a collaboration between public agencies and local health organizations.

For example, Seattle’s school-based clinics get funding from the city’s Families and Education Levy. Running the clinics is a collaboration between the school district, Seattle-King County Public Health and local health care providers.

Dixie Grunenfelder oversees behavioral health programs in public schools at the Office of State Public Instruction. “Schools have become much more sophisticated in identifying kids’ needs,” she said, “not just on the academic realm, but also on the behavior realm, things they might be struggling with.”

The state is keeping track. Every other year it conducts a survey to get an idea of students’ physical and mental wellbeing. This helps agencies gauge their needs.

Grunenfelder said that over the past few years the state has seen an increase in kids feeling depressed — especially among 10th and 12th graders.

Having a counselor onsite makes a difference she said. It increases the likelihood that kids follow through on a referral and get the services they need — and get right back to class.

Grunenfelder said it also sends an important message. “It sets a climate of, ‘this is a healthy environment,’” she said. “Having a mental health issue isn’t a bad thing; it’s not stigmatized. It’s not put away and sent away. It’s something we deal with.”

Read complete post here.

Source: KUOW News and Information, By Ruby De Luna 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Events across the country address the needs of children, youth, and young adults with mental health and substance use challenges and their families on this 10th Anniversary of the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

Project AWARE - OSPI

Here in Washington, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is one of 20 state-level grantees for the Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) grant. The five-year nearly $10 million grant, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), builds OSPI’s and local partners’ capacity to:

  • Increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth
  • Provide training for school personnel, families, and community members to detect and respond to mental health issues in children and young adults
  • Connect youth and families with services


The intent of Project AWARE is to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and integrated program to advance wellness and resilience in educational settings for school-aged youth.

Project goals:

  • Improve overall school climate
  • Promote positive mental health among youth and families
  • Increase mental health literacy of school personnel and other adults
  • Increase access to school and community-based mental health services
  • Build the capacity and leadership to sustain community-based mental health promotion, prevention, early identification, and treatment services

By building on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) model, Project AWARE increases access to school and community-based mental health supports. Collaboration between state, local, and building-level behavioral health promotion is a significant component of the project. A diverse State Management Team drives this effort.

Sign Up for a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

Project AWARE offers no cost trainings that are in-person and open to parents, school staff, and other community members in Washington State. The all-day training teaches adults how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse among youth.

Learn more about this training and Project Aware.

Source: Office of the Superindent of Public Instruction

Healthy Students Achieve!