Pierce County aims to improve behavioral health system

KING 5's Jenna Hanchard reports.

In an effort to evaluate and improve the county's behavioral health system, the county hired an outside company to study behavioral health issues and services available.

The Human Services Research Institute put together the report that was released this month and presented it to Pierce County Council Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Pierce County Council Chair Doug Richardson said there are several sobering statistics:

  • The opiate related deaths in Pierce County increased more than 32 percent in 2002 and 2013.
  • Suicide rates in Pierce County are higher than the state average and depression rates are higher than the national average.
  • Pierce County has the highest domestic violence rate in the state.

"It is an alarming statistic. There is no easy answer to this very complex issue," said Jennine Devenuti, who works domestic violence programs with the YWCA of Pierce County.

Devenuti says the need is great and the YWCA in Pierce County want to expand spaces for domestic violence victims.

"The trauma impacts that they're experiencing, such as depression, that may lead to suicide," Devenuti said.

According to the report, the county needs to offer more to people before they end up in crisis, and there needs to be a better coordination of the services that are already offered. 

Pierce County is also considering a mental health tax. Currently it's the only urban county in the state that does not have a mental health tax to help fund services in the county. Council will consider this tax November.

The county is encouraging people to come to public meetings to hear what the county can be doing better. Meeting will be held at the following locations:

  • Oct. 12, 6:30 p.m. at Pacific Lutheran University
  • Oct. 19, 9:30 a.m. at Pierce County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S
  • Oct. 31, 1:30 p.m. at 930 Tacoma Ave. S. in Pierce County Council Chambers for council discussion.

Copyright 2016 KING


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