Hot Human Service Issues and Concerns
"The Civil Rights Movement of this decade is Mental Health Care quality and equality."
-- Updated November 14, 2007 --


    The mission of this page is to provide you with links to Web sites and information that will assist you in understanding many of the current concerns, studies, and discussions related to hot issues in mental health and substance abuse treatment.

    Many of the links on this page will be to small .pdf Adobe Acrobat Documents. If you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader, please go to the Adobe Acrobat Reader Web site to download the free and very useful software.

    Please note that links to pages at the Washington Post and the New York Times may require that you sign up for membership to view them. In addition, links to some online news articles often become unavailable two weeks after the article was originally posted.

      Shame on Washington State!

    In the last ten years, Washington State has almost completely abandoned non-Medicaid mental health and chemical dependency services. In Dr. Sterling's opinion, this is an example of the Washington State abandoning its constitutional obligation to insure safety, security and public health services to its residents. Instead, the state has kicked the can down the road to the counties.

    Enacting and appropriately spending the proceeds of a 0.1 percent sales tax (1 cent per $10 or about $25 per family per year) will allow King County to reap huge cost savings in the long run, by allowing appropriate treatment and diversion programs for people who currently cost us much more due to non-treatment recidivism and emergency services.

      Washington State Mental Health Transformation Work Group.

    On December 9, 2005, the 32 members of the Transformation Work Group met in Olympia for the first time. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an overview of the grant and an orientation to this collaborative initiative. The Comprehensive Mental Health Plan is due to SAMHSA by September 30, 2006. The plan will be based on the work of subcommittees and task groups.

    Many public meetings are planned. Please check the following Web site for more information on how to participate in the work associated with the federal Mental Health Transformation Grant.

      Legislative Events, Agendas, and Position Statements.

    Many of the following organizations and Web sites post legislative priorities, position statements, and responses to legislative initiatives.

    • Seattle Community Network ('s mission is community empowerment. The site includes a Calendar of Peace and Justice Events.

    • Seattle Activism Web Site. provides information on upcoming events, actions, and meetings as well as links to organizations and resources in the Seattle area related to progressive activist issues.

    • Washington Protection & Advocacy System's Legislative Agenda.

    • University of Washington School of Social Work Policy Watch.

    • Check the Children's Alliance Web site for their legislative agenda and responses to budget proposals.

    • The Arc of Washington -- Since 1936, the Arc of Washington State has been a leader in the development of services and programs for people with developmental disabilities, such as, autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy and related neurological disorders which occur before age 18.

    • The Washington Community Mental Health Council is a non-profit, professional association of about fifty mental health centers in communities across the State of Washington.

    • Check the University of Washington's Health Policy Analysis Program Web site for many links to reports and articles on health care policy in Washington State.

    • Washington Citizen Action, Washington's largest grassroots public interest group. Their Web page has several links to Medicaid waiver reports and Medicaid issues.

    • The Washington State Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) is a statewide public interest advocacy organization. WashPIRG's mission is to deliver persistent, results-oriented activism that protects public health and the environment, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.

    • Go to the Washington State Medical Association Web site to read news articles and position papers about Medicare, Medicaid, and tort reform, among others.

      Real Change News -- A Good Source for Activist Concerns!

    Check the Web site for Real Change News, a Seattle newspaper sold on the streets of Seattle by vendors who may be homeless or low-income.
      Medicare and Medicaid Issues and Concerns.

    For legislative news, announcements, and information about Medicare and Medicaid , please go to our Medicare and Medicaid News Web page.

      Medical Confidentiality and Privacy Alerts!

    To get alerts, information and links about medical confidentiality issues and privacy concerns, please go to our Privacy News page.

      Universal Health Care.

      Talking Points and Hot Issues: National Organization Briefing Papers.

    Below are selected links to certain national think tanks and organizations who study health care issues and concerns.

    • Go to the Urban Institute's recent studies on Recent Changes in Health Policy In Washington State to get a good overview of what has gone on in Washington over the last few years and where it is headed with health policy.

    • Go to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) page that gives the most recent comparison of state mental health expenditures to see where Washington stood in 2001 -- 2001 Comparison of State Mental Health Expenditures.

    • Go to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University to find great publications on chemical dependency issues. Specifically, I recommend the publication entitled Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets.

    • Families USA has great information and links about health care policy. We recommend checking Families USA often. Consider signing up for their e-mailed notices and alerts.

    • Commonwealth Fund Web site. The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that supports independent research on health and social issues and makes grants to improve health care practice and policy. The Fund is dedicated to helping people become more informed about their health care, and improving care for vulnerable populations such as children, elderly people, low-income families, minority Americans, and the uninsured. The Fund's two national program areas are improving health insurance coverage and access to care and improving the quality of health care services.

    • "A Guide to Organizing Community Forums" and other publications can be found at Community Catalyst. The guiding questions deal with several general concerns that arise when planning a forum, and each section includes brief checklists that should prove helpful during the different stages of forum organizing efforts.

    • Kaiser Family Foundation is one of the most well-known Web sites for updated and comprehensive information on health care policy and prescription drug concerns.

    • Private Citizen fights for openness and democratic accountability in government, for the right of consumers to seek redress in the courts; for clean, safe and sustainable energy sources; for social and economic justice in trade policies; for strong health, safety and environmental protections; and for safe, effective and affordable prescription drugs and health care.

      Thank You for Stopping By!

        - Best wishes, Ron Sterling M.D. (Seattle, Washington, USA)

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