A Success Story from Snohomish County

Families for Depression Awareness

In the post above, we used the example of Snohomish County, Washington, of using a designated sales tax to fund mental health services. Here is an example of how funds are used and how they made the difference in one case.

Among many programs, the Snohomish County sales tax funds the Student Support Advocate Program, which provides “intensive case management services to at-risk middle and high school students to connect and engage students and their families with needed resources (mental health and substance use disorder treatment, housing resources and homeless prevention services, food and other basic needs, etc.).” In 2015, the results included the following:

  • 2,159 students served across four school districts
  • 1,021 students engaged in full-time case management services
  • 255 students were connected with chemical dependency services
  • 442 students were connected with mental health services
  • 57% of case managed students had improved attendance
  • 52% of case managed students had improved grades
  • 63% of case management students had improved discipline records (fewer incidents).

Ms. Hart-Anderson offered this example of a success story that would not have happened had these funds not been available.

I.B. was a student who was brought to the attention of the SSA [Student Support Advocate] early in her 9th grade year. Her mother was concerned about heavy drug use, running away, and physical fights at home. She had dealt with years of domestic violence between her parents and had used drugs as a way to get through her pain. She went into inpatient treatment and transferred back to school after 3 months. The SSA helped her with counseling, but she relapsed and ran away for 6 weeks. During that time, her SSA searched for her through friends and social media.

Finally, I.B. was arrested and sent to drug court. The SSA worked with her every day, attended drug court with her on many occasions, and continued to support mom’s parenting skills. The SSA also collaborated with her outside therapists and probation counselor. At school, the SSA worked closely with teachers to provide a safe space for IB to get caught up and to have success at school. As of this year, I.B. is on track for graduation, is getting mostly As and Bs, has great attendance, and has reduced conflict at home. In addition, she was the fastest graduate at drug court and continues her sobriety (with lots of support). She is truly a success, and while her resilience was tremendous, it was the wraparound, unconditional support that assisted with that success.

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