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Recommendations from State and National Organizations


The Office of the Washington State Auditor (2021) issued a list of recommendations for the legislature, the Health Care Authority (HCA), and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) which include (p. 43-45):

  1. The legislature should designate either HCA or OSPI as the lead state agency tasked with ensuring student access to the continuum of behavioral health services in schools;

  2. The legislature should allocate funding to the lead agency with requirements to:

    1. Establish an advisory council that will determine the strategic direction and goals for programming, develop outcome and performance measures, and provide guidance to school districts on how funds can be used;

    2. Provide flexible funding to service districts that will help them develop comprehensive services;

    3. Provide upfront funding to service and school districts seeking to become Medicaid behavioral health providers

  3. HCA should create guidance for service and school districts on how providing Medicaid services to students;

  4. HCA should collaborate with OSPI, service districts, managed care organizations, and school districts to reduce administrative burdens on service districts and school districts;

  5. HCA should conduct a study to evaluate what would be needed to establish a waiver program for behavioral health services and request approval from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS);

  6. Incorporate a review of children’s behavioral health screenings into HCA’s current monitoring process to ensure beneficiaries receive screenings; and

  7. OSPI should revise its district plan template to more closely follow state requirements.


Mental Health America (MHA)’s report, Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis: The Urgent Need for More Education, Services, and Supports (2020) makes the following recommendations (p. 30-32):

  1. Promote youth leadership at the local, state, and national levels to improve youth mental health in schools.

  2. Advocate for and achieve more state legislative victories in key areas of mental health education, access to services, and mental health excused absences; and ensure follow-up, evaluation, and effective implementation.

  3. Continue innovation and research on evolving state statutes and programs to improve early intervention in youth mental health, particularly in the areas of screening and peer support.

  4. Draw on state experiences to inform a national strategy and implementation to improve youth mental health with a focus on youth leadership, equity, and school initiatives.


The U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Protecting Youth Mental Health (2021) identifies a vast array of activities for different individuals and groups. Here is a sample of those suggestions:

  • What young people can do (p. 14-15):

    • Remember that [behavioral] health challenges are real, common, and treatable.

    • Find ways to serve by volunteering in the community and helping others.

    • Take care of your body and mind.

    • Be a source of support for others – talk to your family; advocate for and contribute your ideas at the local, state, and national levels; join youth advisory councils or behavioral health peer support programs.

  • What family members and caregivers can do (p. 16-17):

    • Be the best role model you can be for young people by taking care of your own mental and physical health.

    • Help children and youth develop strong, safe, and stable relationships with you and other supportive adults.

    • Encourage children and youth to build healthy social relationships with peers.

    • Be a voice for [behavioral] health in your community.

  • What educators, school staff, and school districts can do (p. 19-20):

    • Create positive, safe, and affirming school environments.

    • Provide a continuum of supports to meet student [behavioral] health needs, including evidence-based prevention practices and trauma-informed [behavioral] health care.

    • Expand the school [behavioral] health workforce.

    • Support the mental health of all school personnel.

  • What community organizations can do (p. 29-30):

    • Educate the public about the importance of [behavioral] health, and reduce stereotypes, bias, and stigma.

    • Implement evidence-based programs that promote healthy development, support children, youth and their families, and increase their resilience.

    • Address the unique [behavioral] health needs of at-risk youth, such as racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth with disabilities.

    • Elevate the voices of children, young people, and their families through youth advisory councils and peer support programs.

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