Newsletter to the Pierce County Community

Linking Arms to Improve Children’s Mental Health

The Summit
In October 2018, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital with the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pierce County Police Chiefs Association, Tacoma School District and HopeSparks convened a Children’s Mental Health Summit. 70-plus leaders and front-line staff — spanning emergency services, law enforcement, mental health, juvenile justice, crisis services, emergency medicine, primary care, education, and social services — came together to define the barriers and begin to identify a common agenda to improve children’s mental health services.

Key Summit Themes

  • Agencies across the board have the will to improve. There is tremendous energy to build a collaborative solution and engage in collective action.
  • A formal collaborative effort is needed to bring partners together around a common vision and agenda.
  • Partners share a keen focus on equity as a value and common goal.

Increase in SuicideThe Growing Crisis in Children’s Mental Health

Mental health challenges are now the most prevalent and disabling conditions in children today.

Our Biggest Challenges

In addition to a lack of resources and capacity, partners identified three major barriers:

  1. Fragmentation – Our community currently has a fragmented, uncoordinated approach and lacks shared and consistent protocols to prevent crises, manage them when they occur and support children in remaining healthy when they are back in the community.
  2. Data – A shared system to collect community data and to prioritize action is needed.
  3. Workforce – Far too few qualified mental health professionals are available to support community needs. Additionally, there is not enough psychiatric support and consultation.

Our Biggest Opportunities

Partners identified three community-wide opportunities to improve children’s mental health services.

  • 1 – A one-stop child and adolescent mental health collaborative with a:
    • Single point of access including triage line, bed space for children awaiting safe placement, and navigators to advise and link first responders, concerned families, health professionals and community providers to needed services.
    • Coordinated cross-agency protocols and care plans for supporting children and families with acute crises and helping them to remain healthy in the community.
  • 2 – Increased support and expansion of existing mobile crisis response teams.
  • 3 – Workforce development and continued training in pediatric mental health.

In addition, multiple actions were identified that individual agencies might implement in partnership with one another such as embedding mental health workers in schools to identify issues early and prevent crises.

Early Actions

Law enforcement has improved resource information for families. A first ever baseline survey about children’s mental health needs has been conducted. Agencies are already connecting with each other to strengthen staff training. MultiCare has submitted a proposal to partner on a large grant with the Health Care Authority.

Be part of the solution

In early 2019, the community will hold the second of the two-part planning meetings to confirm our short-term actions and long-term agenda.

To learn more, CONTACT US.

“This is a collaborative between both the public and private sectors to successfully address children’s mental health in Pierce County. It is our responsibility as community leaders to provide children the opportunity for a healthier future.”

Police Chief
Mike Blair


Help develop coordinated cross-agency protocols and care plans for supporting children and families with acute crises and helping them to remain healthy in the community