The response to the mental-health crisis illustrates the University’s value to the Legislature—and the Legislature’s reliance on the UW.
The impact of the University of Washington was never more clearly on display than when the Washington Legislature turned to the state’s flagship university to tackle the state’s mental health crisis.
A year ago, the Legislature made a significant investment in the UW in the form of $201 million for the construction of a behavioral health teaching hospital. What an apt metaphor that was: state leaders from both sides of the aisle joining together to ask the University to create, from the ground up, not just a building, but an in-depth solution to a devastating, complex crisis that has no end in sight.
In the big picture, this was a prime example of alignment in action: An active Legislature, informed by the University’s legislative advocacy efforts and its engaged alumni community, coming through when it was needed most.
The Behavioral Health Training Facility, which should be ready by 2024 on the UW Medicine-Northwest campus, will be a tangible step in addressing the heartbreaking lack of available care for individuals with behavioral-health issues. It will also seek to correct the lack of adequately trained staff to care for these patients by training the next generation of mental-health caregivers and leaders.
This is nothing new. Throughout its 160-year history, the University has proved time and again why it is the state’s most vital resource when it comes to addressing society’s biggest problems. The UW leads the way in finding solutions precisely because of its alignment of values with the Legislature and the University community. For instance, from the start of the pandemic 18 months ago, UW Medicine and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation have been on the forefront of providing information, research and guidance on COVID-19. At the same time, the University community rolled up its sleeves and got involved immediately to support UW Medicine by donating personal protective equipment and other health-safety materials.
This alignment of values, combined with world-leading innovation, reinforces the University’s role as the leader in initiatives ranging from population health to race and equity to mental health. As the Legislature prepares to convene in January, the University community will continue dedicating its steadfast support. And the UW will continue to lead the way to create better lives for all of us.