SEATTLE — People most in need of behavioral health care say there's a gap in services that needs to be addressed now. That's why Sound Health just received $5.8 million in funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce to create a new crisis center.
Sara Beckmann receives services at Sound Health’s Belltown outpatient center. She was struggling with mental health issues and was homeless, living just blocks away in lower Queen Anne for years.
“Whiskey and meth, those things will have a really big negative impact on my day-to-day life,” said Beckmann.
Now she is six years sober, has an apartment, and is in recovery. She receives therapy for depression, anxiety and ADHD, which she was not diagnosed with until she came to Sound Health. She had multiple of her close friends in the homeless community die, and she didn’t want her life to end the same way.
“I would be dead or in jail if it weren't for Sound. Probably dead,” said Beckmann. “Probably dead or waiting to get into a mental institute, because that's sorely lacking in our community.”
Sound Health's interim CEO and President Katrina Egner agrees more resources are needed in the Seattle area.
“I think the need is outweighing the capacity right now for sure,” said Egner.
This need is why Sound Health just received $5.8 million in funding from the state's Department of Commerce to create a one-of-a-kind crisis triage facility in King County that will open at all hours. They already run 10 outpatient treatment centers and two residential treatment centers, but this one will be unique. It is meant to be a hub for all kinds of resources and to help alleviate the number of people in crisis who end up in emergency rooms.
“This will create a place, a safe place, a treatment-oriented place, for people to go and be able to work through their next steps in a really calm and supportive environment,” Egner said.
When someone decides they need help, Beckmann said it is a pivotal moment. But it is a moment that may not last if they don't get that help immediately. She said many times people who are homeless try to seek help, but then facilities are full.
Beckmann said the community needs to understand that there are root causes of drug addiction and homelessness, and that those need to be recognized and treated. She also reminds people that those who are homeless and struggle with addiction are people too and they should be treated with dignity. She hopes a facility like the one Sound Health has planned will allow others in her situation to have access to the right resources.
“It's a part of the human condition, and things happen,” said Beckmann. “Let's address them and not just brush them under the rug like we have for so many years."