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Citizens Speak Up About Mental Health Tragedies in Benton/Franklin Counties, Washington

Below, residents describe their frustrations, and their grief, at the perceived failings of our county’s record on mental health, identification and treatment. 

A group of us are calling for a multiple-agency Consolidated Crisis Response Center to address what we view as the system’s current failures and shortcomings.

Anita Layman: “I'm a taxpayer, and I want my tax dollars to go to creating a Recovery Center. The Mentally Ill do not belong in Jails or Prisons.”

Nanci L. Warner: (We) totally need this center. Help mental health and reduce the prison population and violent crimes.

Robin Haight (Former 911 Dispatcher from Benton county: “I think what might also help some is educating our law enforcement Personnel a little bit more. I'm a farmer 911 dispatcher from Benton County.”  He also said: “Our officers who put their lives on the Line 24/7 for us do need some education especially old timers!” (Note that integrating training and services of police, health providers and mental health, among other things, are expected to be part of the plans for a new CCRC.

Claude Oliver: With an effective well-staffed operated Consolidated Crisis Response Center they would check (the patient) out and know from past history everything about (him/her). Individuals inside the criminal justice system without diagnostics diversion are, sadly a ticking time bomb to themselves and everyone around them.

Jen Ward: (Speaking of one mental patient, Ward said: “He was court ordered to be under the supervision of the mental health providers in our community. They failed to provide the necessary supervision and didn't respond to his very clear (mental health needs). The result from that was that he killed his own grandmother. If our system would have been doing their job, working together, and providing the proper treatment and supervision the law required them to provide, this tragedy never would have happened. It was 100% avoidable.”

Christel Reynolds (Who blames the state’s closing of mental hospitals): “Now there are lots of homeless mentally ill people who are off of their meds, have no basic care (nutrition, hygiene, clothing, bed to sleep in), no counseling, etc. It's truly sad that these afflicted souls have lost basic care due to mismanagement of the facilities and diversion of funds by liberals.”

David Steffen: The Funds are Available to build a Consolidated Crises Response Center for Benton and Franklin Counties, but the commissioners refuse to act!”  He adds: “Washington recently landed at a dismal No. 47 on a national ranking of state mental health care systems by nonprofit Mental Health America. It only fared better than Rhode Island, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.” 
Note: My research shows that Washington actually ranks number 16.
Michelle Barrett Bodine: “If only the One Stop Neurological Services crisis triage and jail diversion program were better supported by the community & county so we could help more of those in similar situations.”
Clarissa Pulliam: “I really wish people would recognize the help he (a person recently arrested) really needs.”
Neil Jacobson: Why whenever a person gets arrested the first thing out of liberals’ (mouth) is:  "Is he/she mentally ill?”  … obey the law and comply with the officers’ commands.” 

Many, like Neil, apparently have had no personal experience with mental illness. Those who have, understand that things are not always that simple.

David Steffen: “We Need a Stronger Voice in Olympia and in the Benton and Franklin Court Houses. Support organizations such as NAMI - National Association for the Mentally Ill - We have an organization right here - NAMI TRI-CITIES.” 

Susan Parker: “We desperately need a new long-term mental health hospital. We are spending a fortune on jails and lawsuits. Just build it, they will come.”

Claude Oliver: “We citizens of Benton County passed the Public Safety Tax $93 Million Dollar. Unfortunately, County Bureaucrats worded the ballot to send 100% to build their political empires. $Zero Dollars are going to address our unstable Community Health Crisis Response Services Consolidation.


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