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Snohomish County uses $6.5M in federal funds for youth mental health services

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(The Center Square) – Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is using $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to add to the county’s continuing spending on mental health services.

The new flood of federal funds will go to expanding existing mental health and wellness services specifically for young people, as well as exploring new strategies that do not rely on certificated or licensed mental health professionals.

The county cites a Washington state healthy youth survey that was conducted in 2021, revealing that 39% of Snohomish County 10-graders and 45% of 12-graders said they were depressed. Both groups have continually seen depression rates increase since 2012.

Snohomish County added that homeless youth, youth who speak a foreign language at home, and youth in the foster care system have seen a 20%, 25%, and 40% increase, respectively, in the dropout rate when compared to 2019.

“There’s no denying that the pandemic took a significant toll on young people,” Somers said in a news release. “With these investments, we’re increasing the availability of mental health services that meet the diverse needs of our young people to help ensure they can access care where and when they need it.”

Approximately $3.2 million out of the $6.5 million in funding will be used to enhance existing programming such as increasing the number of times a young person can meet with a counselor or increasing the number of students the existing program serves.

Another large portion of the federal spending goes to Everett Community College, Edmonds College, Housing Hope, Everett Public School District, and Cocoon House, which will collaborate to support homeless students during the transition from high school to post-secondary education. These schools will receive $1.2 million.

Snohomish County’s partnerships with the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County will see $1.5 million go toward mental health services for school-aged children. According to the county, the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA provide an estimated 80% of all after school care in Snohomish County.

The county indicated it will distribute the majority of its American Rescue Plan Act funds by the end of 2023, as part of the federal dollars’ compressed timeline.

Last month, Snohomish County dedicated $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to five capital projects that increase behavioral health and substance abuse treatment capacity.

The neighboring King County is also working to deal with a worsening mental health crisis. King County voters recently approved the Crisis Care Center levy, which will cost property owners 15 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or approximately $121 a year for a median priced home in King County, according to estimated 2024 home values.

The levy is expected to generate an estimated $1.3 billion for the creation of a regional network of five crisis care centers throughout the county for people needing mental health treatment.

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