Lelach Rave, MD, FAAP
Wes Henricksen, MD, MPH, FAAP
Co-Chairs, WCAAP Legislative Committee
Legislators frequently tell us that stories are what bring the impact of legislation to life and are what bring proposed policies to fruition. They see issue briefs, meet with lobbyists and hear statistics, but it’s the real lives of people in their communities that move them to act. In that spirit, the WCAAP joined forces with the Washington State Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (WSCCAP) to host a lunchtime learning session about child mental health on March 30th with legislators and staff in Olympia.
Ten WCAAP physicians from around the state came to talk about specific cases in which their young patients would have been helped by early identification and access to care, to illustrate the flaws in our current system. With 30+ legislators and staff from both sides of the aisle in attendance — including Rep. Tana Senn, who co-chaired the Children’s Mental Health Work Group and sponsored the resulting bill; Sen. David Frockt, who suggested the lunch and learn event); and Sen. Sharon Brown, who sponsored the behavioral health integration bill that was spearheaded by WCAAP trustee Dr. Thatcher Felt — it was clear that this is an issue that concerns legislators.
The timing of this event was ideal, with our children’s mental health bills (HB 1713, HB 1819, SB 5749, SB 5779) advancing. Keep an eye on your email for action alerts on these bills as well as our other legislative priorities in the coming days and weeks. If you have time, when we send action alerts, please feel free to edit the letters we provide to include your own patient stories. You are recognized by legislators as an expert on child health, so you are in a unique position to serve as a voice for the children in your community.
Our sincere thanks to Avanti Bergquist, MD, MS, FAPA for getting the ball rolling on this event and to the WSCCAP for the grant that allowed us to host the event. Special thanks to Dr. Bergquist as well as Drs. Nicole Castonguay, Erin Dillon-Naftolin, John Dunne, Kari Gillenwater, Michael Krebs, Christine Larson, Elizabeth Meade, Lelach Rave and Virginia Sanders, who made time to travel to Olympia to share their own stories and help legislators understand how we can better serve kids. And most of all, thank you to the legislators who took time out of their extremely busy schedules to join us and listen.