The SMART Center’s effort to use policy and financing strategies to take effective School Mental Health to Scale in Washington State

Our state is in the midst of a children’s mental health crisis. Nearly 100 Washington youth die by suicide in any given year. The rate of young people who experience depression and suicidality has increased 35% in the past decade.

We envision a Washington where all children and youth are mentally well, and youth suicide is a thing of the past. To achieve this outcome, we envision our state as a national leader in investing in evidence-based policies and strategies to address the current crisis in children’s mental health where the vast majority of children and youth already are – in their schools.

A plan of action

Effective school mental health is unlikely to be achieved at scale without accountability structures, quality monitoring, investment in the school-based workforce, and technical assistance to schools and districts.

Our Case for School Mental Health brief highlights key statistics on the benefit of – and need for – comprehensive school mental health services. The “case for school mental health” does not just point to a general recommendation for increased availability of school mental health services, but more specific policy and funding recommendations.

Our 2024 Policy & Funding Recommendations include:

  1. Support the school-based behavioral health workforce in Washington State.
  2. Build statewide infrastructure for equitable social emotional learning. 
  3. Eliminate isolation and reduce the use of restraint.
  4. Directly fund school behavioral health in Washington State.
  5. Expand the growing Washington Workforce for Student Well-being (WSW) SMH Certificate program.
  6. Fund state-level mental health literacy education.

Download our Case for School Mental Health brief here.

Our Partners

The SMART Center is also a member of the School-Based Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention Subcommittee of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Work Group (CYBHWG).

2023 Legislative Session Bill Tracking

Each week during the legislative session, we prepare and update a comprehensive bill tracker that outlines all legislation related to school mental health that has introduced so far during that legislative session.

Sign up for our listserv to receive regular updates and access our new and improved 2024 Bill Tracker Dashboard here!

Interested in school mental health and youth suicide prevention legislation from previous legislative sessions? See our bill trackers for prior years below:

Interested in participating or have questions?

Click here to join our mailing list and/or give input! You can also email us at uwsmart@uw.edu or contact Dr. Eric J. Bruns, UW SMART PolicyCore Lead, at ebruns@uw.edu.