King County Behavioral Legislative Forum Receives Cheers from Peers

On Nov. 18 nearly two dozen Sound team members joined an estimated 650 community members, 22 state legislators, and three county council members at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall to have a conversation focused on behavioral health in King County and the legislative priorities for 2020.

Before the forum, the county hosted sessions, where legislators and county council members welcomed open discussion with their constituents, answering questions and engaging in discussion about a variety of topics. Issues addressed included neighborhood needle exchanges, the Seattle police department’s new Crisis Response Teams, homelessness, and of course, behavioral healthcare.

Chief Operations Officer Casey Sixkiller offered opening remarks, in place of County Executive Dow Constantine this year and he stressed the importance of community investment in behavioral healthcare.

Other featured speakers included Senior VP & Chief Behavioral Health Officer at SeaMar, Claudia D’Allegri, and King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division Director Kelli Nomura, both of whom spoke of the necessity of whole person, integrated healthcare and the importance of peers in programs.

“We need recovery programs that are run and operated by peers!” declared Numora, to a cheering crowd.

The highlight of the evening, as always, were the success stories. Behavioral health clients from all over the region promoted the idea that recovery is possible for people struggling with behavioral health issues. Clients Joe Connif, Teresa Anderson-Harper, Joey Wilson, and Aren Olson shared their own inspirational stories of triumph over mental health challenges and struggles with addiction.

The panel of legislators capped the evening by sharing their districts’ behavioral healthcare legislative objectives for the coming year. Goals included decriminalization of substance use, rapid access to evaluation, treatment services, and creation and implementation of diversion programs.

As always, the King County Behavioral Health Legislative Forum was free to the public. To watch the entire evening’s event in video, visit https://youtu.be/AQfGA4VxJdI