January 19, 2022

Building a Healthy Community

A Holistic View of Health

“More than a half-million Washingtonians with mental-health problems don’t have access to care” Jürgen Unützer, head of the UW’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

As we strive to become a healthy, thriving community in Spokane we have to address the complex needs of our community members related to all aspects of their health. One of the most important efforts we can make towards holistic care is improving access to mental health services. According to a Seattle Times reporter, in Washington state “only 12 percent of residents live in an area where they could expect their mental health needs to be met.” – Hannah Furfaro, The Seattle Times

The pandemic has allowed many to change how they offer services, with telehealth options reaching more patients in rural areas than ever before. In counties like ours which contain a combination of urban and rural areas, virtual services have the potential to change outcomes for many Spokane County residents. However, with rising uncertainty due to the pandemic, and holiday stress some of these services may become more overwhelmed this season.

What to do When in or Witnessing a Mental Health Crisis

What is a mental health crisis?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental health crisis is defined as a “any situation in which a person’s behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others and/or prevents them from being able to care for themselves or function effectively in the community.

In American society, police are the authority we tend to seek out when in crisis situations. We are taught from a young age to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. In a blog post titled, What to do When Someone is Having a Mental Health Crisis in the Street, the author points out a relevant quote by Abraham Maslow, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” While the police are a great resource to reach out to when we need to be protected from a threat, other resources may be better suited to this particular situation.

“By the most conservative estimates, at least 1 in 4 fatal law enforcement encounters involves an individual with serious mental illness. When data have been rigorously collected and analyzed, findings indicate as many as half of all law enforcement homicides ends the life of an individual with severe psychiatric disease.”Overlooked in the Undercounted

Sometimes we start forcing the wrong tool to apply to every situation simply because it is the most visible and robust. When we begin to rely too heavily on one resource though, the others get underutilized, underfunded, and therefore underdeveloped to meet the actual needs of the community. We have to build back the strength in our other tools by investing in those vital resources that keep the community healthy and functioning, like mental health.

Community organizing groups across the country, such as the Oakland Power Projects have pushed for community-based solutions to issues that can’t and shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the police. Investing in community-based mental health services is another way the Oakland Power Projects have identified to build back community power while reducing reliance on law enforcement.

Mental Health Resources

Virtual Access and Emergency Resources
  • Spokane Regional Crisis Services
    The regional crisis line’s purpose is to “provide services for and on behalf of individuals whose health or safety is in danger because of a mental health or substance use condition.”
    Call the 24/7 regional crisis line at 1-877-266-1818 spokanecounty.org/4232/Spokane-RSA-Crisis-Services
  • Eastern Washington 211
    The Eastern Washington 211 acts as a “resource line that provides free information about community resources and human services including local support groups.”
    Call the Eastern Washington resource line at 211 or 866-904-9060. wa211.org
  • Crisis Text Line
    The Crisis Text Line specializes in a variety of topics including coronavirus, suicide, depression, eating disorders, emotional abuse, self-harm, and loneliness.
    Text ‘HOME’ to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor. You can also reach them on WhatsApp through their website. crisistextline.org
  • The Trevor Project
    The Trevor Project supports LGBTQ youth through free and confidential 24 hour crisis counseling services. They have options to chat, call, or text.
    Call them at 1-866-488-7386. Text ‘START’ to 678-678. thetrevorproject.org/get-help
  • The Trans Lifeline
    Run by and for trans people, offers a helpline for trans folks as well as one for friends and family. translifeline.org/hotline
From YWCA Spokane’s Mental Health Team

Our Mental Health Therapy team created this series of guided meditation and relaxation technique videos to empower survivors to make mindful moments for themselves wherever they are experiencing stress or anxiety.
Visit ywcaspokane.org/mindful-moment to learn more.

Recent News

By: Rachel Dannen

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