State launches new support line in response to elevated stress from COVID-19 pandemic

by Casey McCarthy
Staff Writer | June 23, 2020 9:45 PM

MOSES LAKE — Washington State Health Care Authority recently launched a new support line for people dealing with added stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Washington Listens” is available for free to anyone in the state looking to speak with a support specialist. Callers may remain anonymous, with no personal information required for support specialists. Washington Listens is available at 1-833-681-0211, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Resources in English or Spanish are available, as well as the option to be routed to a live person for assistance. Specialists will work to refer callers to other resources or agencies to help address their concerns.

Washington Listens support members will reach out to community leaders around the state to try and find ways to best reach vulnerable populations.

A number of providers have partnered with Washington Listens, including: Crisis Connections, Community Integrated Health Services, American Indian Community Center, Swinomish Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Colville Tribe, Frontier Behavioral Health, Okanogan Behavioral Health Care in North Central, Great Rivers and the Samish Indian Tribe.

The support line is not a crisis or referral line, or a replacement for existing resources such as 211. For an urgent mental health crisis, people are urged to call the local regional crisis line, or text ‘HEAL’ to the crisis text line, 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

More than $4 million in federal funding was secured to help deal with increased need in behavioral health services.

The $2.2 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency will help establish the Washington Listens network, funding the support line and 120 counselors and team leaders.

A $2 million grant through SAMHSA for behavioral health treatment will go toward increasing treatment for substance use disorder and mental health for individuals whose health care doesn’t adequately provide coverage.

The funding will help HCA contract with other behavioral administrative service organizations to expand treatment access.