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Ask the Governor

Inslee: State “Scrambling” on Mental Health Services

April 14, 2016

Ask the Governor excerpts:

Enrique Cerna: Washington has not only one of the highest rates of mental illness among the states, but also has a poor record on the issue of spending on mental health services. Did anything happen in the supplemental budget to address that, to make some differences?

Governor Jay Inslee: There need to be significant improvements even beyond what we’ve done so far. Both in the biennial budget and the supplemental bud there are very significant—in the tens of millions of dollars—of new investment in mental health. And it is long overdue. What happened was during the great recession we carved out tens of mental health out of our budget, essentially to balance the books. Now we are replacing that big time…in providing better community resources so people can get better mental health services in the community where they live, in providing emergency shelters….in bolstering our capacity in our institutions which are frankly understaffed and under-resourced at our psychiatric hospitals… Now it takes time to get that capacity built up; we’re scrambling to meet some court orders, frankly, now to make sure that we provide the mental health that has been mandated by fairness and the Constitution.

Rex Hohlbein (citizen participant): One of the tragedies with in the issue of homelessness is the dehumanization of folks that are going through it. Our organization, Facing Homelessness, is encouraging peep to move forward with kindness and quite frankly, just showing a little bit of attention to people who are suffering outside, such smiling and just saying hello. I’d like to ask you to put your political hat aside for a moment and maybe just talk personally about your own feelings about homelessness, how you reach out to just say hello.

Homeless Advocate Rex Holbein with Governor Inslee

Governor Jay Inslee: When I think of my own personal life, there are times when I’ve done that and perhaps times when I have been not perfect, and I think this is when the mental health aspect—we have a lot of people who have profound mental health challenges on the sidewalks today. And I think people on occasion are overcome with fear rather than friendliness. And trying to get over that is important, and getting people treatment as well is important, to help them. But I like this idea, I’ll take it to heart and I’ll try to think of it as a person not just as a governor next time I’m on the sidewalk.

MORE: Repealing the state ban on local rent control, case overloads in Department of Health and Human Services.

Enrique Cerna

The son of Mexican immigrants, Enrique Cerna was born and raised in the Yakima Valley.  Enrique joined KCTS 9 in January, 1995. He has anchored current affairs programs, moderated statewide political debates, produced and reported stories for national PBS programs in addition to local documentaries on social and juvenile justice, the environment and Latinos in Washington State.

Enrique has earned nine Northwest Emmy Awards and numerous other honors. In June, 2013, he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle for his work as a television professional.

More stories by Enrique Cerna

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is a 25-year veteran of KCTS, producing a wide range of cultural and public affairs series, documentaries and arts programming.  His credits include PIE, Something in the Water  (PBS feature on Seattle’s indie music scene), the gala opening of Benaroya Hall, and documentaries on Asahel and Edward Curtis, Dan Sullivan and Doris Chase.  Seattle-born, Hegg is a graduate of Whitworth University and is also an accomplished violinist and avid cyclist.

More stories by Stephen Hegg