We need more mental health and addiction professionals


We are facing a national crisis of mental health and addiction. Here in Washington state, we feel it intensely, and we see the impacts of it on our streets with sick and addicted homeless.

But finding adequate and qualified staff to provide care is a constant struggle for social services groups who work in mental health and addiction recovery is challenging.

Senator O’Ban is constantly looking for ways we can increase the number of workers who can serve in these important roles.

Last session he sponsored and passed Senate Bill 5054 that creates a reciprocity program with other state licenses for certain social service workers who move into Washington from out of state and apply for certification as a psychologist, chemical dependency professional, mental health counselor, or marriage and family therapist in Washington.

So, if they are licensed in another state within the past 12 months, Washington State will issue them a license here.

“We want to put to immediate use the skills of military spouses and others moving to Washington State holding critical mental health and addiction recovery licenses and certifications,” said O’Ban. “Interstate reciprocity is a necessary tool in the toolbox we’re using to reform mental-health in Washington.”

Senate Bill 5054 will make it easier to recruit behavioral-health professionals from other states because providers can begin treating patients faster.

If another state has similar or more intensive requirements for licensure or certification than we do, it only makes sense to help providers with those licenses and certifications to hit the ground running here when the need for more staffing is so great.