Washington State ranks
38th in the nation in mental illness prevalence and
access to mental healthcare. In Anacortes, a rural town
on Fidalgo Island, access to mental healthcare is limited
due to transportation challenges, geographic location,
provider availability, and cost.
Anacortes's Skagit County is a designated
Health Provider Shortage Area (HPSA) for mental
health and has a provider-to-patient ratio of 1 to 6,000.
Because of the shortage, primary care and emergency
department providers have had to take the place of
psychiatrists and behavioral health specialists, offering
patients mental healthcare to their best of their
ability. Many of these professionals have limited
experience or training on how to provide these services.
Patients have also had to travel long distances to reach
mental health services located off of the island.
In 2010, Island Hospital (now Island Health) opened an
Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Clinic that integrates
psychiatry and behavioral health with primary care. The
clinic is the first public hospital-sponsored clinic of
its kind in the state. This video features patients who
have benefited from the Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Up until 2008, the Anacortes School District received
psychiatric and behavioral health services through a
county-sponsored intervention program. Because of the
recession, the funding ended, leaving hundreds of
students and families without mental health and social
work support. The Anacortes School District
appealed to the Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Clinic for
help shortly after the clinic's doors opened.
The clinic responded and started a school-based mental
health outreach program that serves adolescents, school
staff, and families with psychiatric and behavioral
health concerns. Clinic providers are located on site in
Anacortes' public schools several days per week.
Through this partnership, the School District Safety
Assessment Team was developed. This team includes local
law enforcement officers, district administrators, mental
health providers, and school counselors to conduct risk
and threat assessments for youth who engage in
threatening verbal or physical behavior at school.
Island Hospital's Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Clinic
is largely funded by the Island
Hospital Foundation. The clinic also receives funding
from the Anacortes School District, the City of
Anacortes, private foundations, and local service