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Partnership of Public Safety and Mental Health

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)

The City of Olympia, WA faces a multifaceted crisis of factors related to
homelessness, the opioid epidemic, lack of available mental health services, and challenges
within the legal system to provide holistic solutions that address the needs of people engaging in
low-level criminal activity. By investing in intentional collaboration between local government,
social services providers, and research professionals, the City of Olympia believes these
challenges can be addressed in a compassionate, evidenced-based way to help reduce the strain
on emergency management and create opportunities for success among people impacted by
behavioral health issues and criminal justice involvement. There are two primary activities of the
proposed project: training for City-employed first responders, and support for case management,
peer support, and mental health services for community members. The training topics outlined in
this proposal support the continuing education of crisis workers, firefighters, and paramedics
during times of crisis, along with tools and resources to cope with the immense secondary trauma
they experience that often leads to high burnout. The expansion of capacity in both hours of
operation and caseload of a diversion program operated by Catholic Community Services of
Western Washington, and the creation of an adult mental health program within the same
agency, will provide meaningful solutions to the long-term needs of the community. By utilizing
a coordinated approach, the City seeks to improve direct referral pathways from highly
competent and well-resourced first responders to appropriate resources for relationship-based
support, creating a compassionate and effective response to a community-wide struggle.
Throughout the course of the project, a comprehensive process and outcome evaluation will be
conducted by a highly-qualified research team at Washington State University. The project
partners anticipate outcomes that include measurable increases in perceived and demonstrated
skills for first responders, increased client contacts within the diversion program, the existence
and operation of a community-based mental health program providing individual and group
therapy, peer services, and psychiatric medication management, and decreased dispatch call
volume for behavioral health incidents.

Date Created: September 25, 2023