BHA General FAQ

  • YES: A parent may bring his or her minor child to a provider of outpatient mental health treatment and request that the minor be examined to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of treatment. The consent of the minor is not required for evaluation. RCW 71.34.600
  • The professional person may do an assessment to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of outpatient treatment. RCW 71.34.600
  • Community mental health centers primarily serve publicly funded clients. If you have private insurance, you may be eligible for services at a community mental health agency or one of your insurer's preferred providers.
  • For publicly funded services, an appointment is necessary.
  • YES: A parent may bring a minor in acute need of inpatient care to an evaluation and treatment (E&T) facility and request that the professional person examine the minor to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of inpatient treatment. RCW 71.34.600-660 (1) NOTE: There are very few acute inpatient evaluation and treatment facilities in Washington State. A parent may NOT bring a minor to a CLIP facility for an assessment because CLIP facilities do not provide emergency or urgent care. They only provide long-term inpatient care.
  • The consent of the minor is not required for admission, evaluation, and treatment if the parent brings the minor to the facility. RCW 71.34.600-660(2)
  • A minor cannot be admitted to inpatient treatment unless it is medically necessary as a result of a mental disorder. RCW 71.34.052 (4)
  • Prior approval by the RSN is necessary for all admissions for publicly funded treatment in acute inpatient facilities.

If your adolescent is over thirteen, be aware he or she will be asked to sign a release of information before you can access your adolescent's mental health records. RCW 70.02 and RCW 71.34

WSH Consumer Affairs Office (CAO) provides services to patients at WSH to help them resolve conflict and complaints.  CAO employees and peer specialists advocate for patients and serve as teachers, resource persons and bridges between patient and various agencies.  CAO does not provide legal services or counseling. 

The telephone number for the Consumer Affairs Office is:

253-761-7575 or 1-800-558-4737.

  • YES: The referral process, the prior authorization process, and the process of obtaining consent are the same regardless of who initiates the referral.
    • School district personnel who refer minors to an inpatient treatment program must notify the parents within forty-eight hours. RCW 71.34.500-530.
  • A child in the legal custody of the Division of Children and Family Services may be referred by their Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) social worker. However, the child's parent must provide the consent for the admission. In an emergency and if the parent is unavailable, the social worker may give consent for an inpatient admission. However, a court hearing must occur by the next judicial day and a judge must authorize that emergency consent. A judge cannot order any child into inpatient treatment except in accordance with RCW 71.34.
  • Any minor thirteen years or older who voluntarily admitted to an evaluation and treatment facility with the consent of his/her parents may give notice of intent to leave at any time.
    • The notice has to be written and intent discerned.
    • The professional person must discharge the minor from the facility immediately upon receiving the notice of intent to leave. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • Any minor thirteen years or older who voluntarily admitted to an evaluation and treatment facility without the consent of his/her parents may give notice of intent to leave at any time.
    • The notice has to be written and intent discerned.
    • Copies of the notice shall be sent to the minor's attorney if any, the DMHP  and the parent.
    • The professional person shall discharge the minor by the second judicial day following receipt of the minor's notice of intent to leave. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • Under a “parent-initiated” admission :
    • A minor receiving inpatient treatment cannot be discharged from the facility based solely on his or her request. RCW 71.34.052.
    • The minor admitted under this section may, however petition the superior court for release from the facility. RCW 71.34.052 (6)
  • Minors involuntarily committed for 180 days of inpatient treatment cannot legally sign themselves out of treatment.
  • YES: The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective. Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • For children and adolescents, research shows improved functioning and school performance, improved quality of life and reduction in violence and self-destructive behaviors.
  • Treatment also decreased recidivism rates for juveniles previously incarcerated in correctional facilities.

Feeling Better
A guide to the mental health system and getting the help you need

Yes.  Research shows that treatment for substance use disorders works to reduce and stop use and the negative consequences.  Addiction is a serious disease that not only harms individuals and families, but the entire community.  The good news is that treatment and recovery programs have provided hope, healing and a new life to thousands of people in Washington and across the nation. 

DBHR invests in treatment services that are evidence-based, and delivered by certified treatment agencies. Certified agencies meet established standards for providing effective services, which includes individual treatment plans to meet specific needs.  Specialized treatment services are available for adolescents, pregnant and parenting women (and their children), members of minority populations, and those with disabilities. 

Treatment also saves public spending on emergency medical care, unemployment and criminal justice. Like any chronic health condition, early and ongoing treatment, and recovery support, are important for long-term health.

The boys are in Pods together, usually by age.  The girls have their own Pods.  Boys and girls do not share a Pod. The one exception is an area of Orcas Cottage called the Close Attention Program (CAP).  There are 7 bedrooms.  The building design is such that each bedroom door is visible from the day area.  Both boys and girls may reside in the Close Attention Program.  Boys and girls are allowed to mix in the day hall, the dining room, daily outings and school.  Normal life goes on but with several watchful eyes.

First, it's important to understand addiction, and treat it with the same urgency as any other chronic and disabling disease. Anyone can develop addiction, but some people are at higher risk, such as those with a family history, and people who begin using alcohol or other drugs before their bodies and brains are developed. Next, help loved ones see that they need help, hold them accountable, and support them throughout treatment. More tips for intervening can be found in this guide: Helping someone who might have a drug or alcohol problem.

You can call the patient - first time callers please call (509) 565-4000

You can write a letter - address it to the patient

You can contact the ward and request that the patient call you - call (509) 565-4000

If your phone number is considered long distance, you can purchase phone cards for your friend or family member for them to use to call you from the hospital.

Contact the hospital’s Public Information Officer by calling 253-582-8900

Patients were buried in the hospital’s cemeteries from 1891 to 1954. If you have a family member that you think might be buried in the hospital’s cemeteries, contact the Medical Record Department at (509) 565-4335. The staff will determine if you are authorized to receive information regarding patients who have been buried in the hospital’s cemeteries and will assist you with your questions.

Family/friend visits are encouraged and play an important role in treatment.  Visiting hours  vary with each program.  Please contact the patient’s Social Worker to arrange a visit and to learn of any restrictions you may be faced with.

Remember that patients have the right to privacy under the law.  They may choose not to have someone as a visitor, in which case you would not be allowed to visit.  Under the law, if a patient does not want you to know they have been admitted to the hospital, you will be unable to visit or find out any information about them.  If you have information that you feel is important for the treatment team to know, you may share that information with the Consumer Affairs Office and it will be passed along to the treatment team.  Any time a visit is detrimental to the patient, staff or the visitor, the treatment team has the authority to deny visitation.

  •  A minor thirteen years or older may admit himself or herself to an evaluation and treatment facility for inpatient mental health treatment without parental consent. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • The professional person in charge of the facility must agree that inpatient treatment is necessary because of a mental disorder and that it is not feasible to treat the minor in any less restrictive setting or the minor's home. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • Written renewal of voluntary consent must be obtained every twelve months and the need for continued inpatient treatment shall be reviewed and documented every one hundred and eighty days. RCW 71.34.500-530. NOTE: Given the short stays in acute inpatient care, this rule only applies to minors being served in CLIP  facilities. Even in a CLIP facility, this type of admission rarely, if ever occurs.

Civil - Patients may be detained by a designated mental health professional or transferred from a community inpatient psychiatric facility under RCW 71.05. Following admission, the treatment team will meet with the patient to complete assessments and then identify diagnoses, treatment goals and discharge plans. If the patient requires additional hospitalization following the initial detention period, the treatment team will make a referral for continued hospitalization and a court hearing will occur.

Family members should contact their local Behavioral Health Organization, mental health center, or crisis network if they feel their family member needs hospitalization to maintain his/her safety or the safety of others.

Forensic (legal) - Admissions to the Eastern State Hospital forensic (legal) unit are through the criminal justice system.

Patients must come to WSH by court order. 

Civil Commitment (RCW 71.05) -- After a mental health professional  evaluate a person with a mental illness, they have the authority to detain him/her to an evaluation and treatment center for up to 72 hours.  If further detainment is needed, they will petition the court.  The court will hold a hearing where a decision is made whether or not to admit the person to the state hospital.   Patients do not come to WSH until after receiving a court order for treatment of their mental illness.

Criminal Commitment (RCW 10.77) – When a person has been arrested and suspected of crime, a judge can request a competency evaluation to determine if they are capable of assisting in their own defense.  The evaluation can be done either in jail or at WSH.  Sometimes a person needs treatment to become competent to stand trial.  When this occurs, the person is admitted to WSH for a longer period of time.  If they are found to be “non-restorable,” their criminal charges can be dropped and they can be civilly committed to the hospital.  Other times, people are found not-guilty-by-reason of insanity.  These patients can stay at WSH for up to the amount of time of what would have been a maximum sentence for their crime.

With various forms of treatment and medication, all patients at WSH are working towards recovery and eventually reintegrating into a productive life in their home community.