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Overcoming Barriers to Mental Health Treatment

Interview with Rachel Barrett, Ryther’s new Chief of Clinical Services.

There are exciting changes with who we are serving, what we are offering as well as where we are meeting our clients. Ryther is expanding on all fronts because the need is great. A recent NPR story noted “Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.” And, due to the many barriers preventing treatment, “nearly 80 percent — who need mental health services won’t get them.”

Barriers may include family finances, geographic proximity/ transportation, hours, not recognizing symptoms, the stubborn stigma surrounding mental illness, a parent’s shame or guilt, and the idea that talking to a therapist won’t really help.

We have therapists already seeing children at Sandpoint Elementary, Roosevelt High School, the UW EEU, and we are in talks with additional schools. Our clinicians are also at YouthCare, Woodinville Treatment Facility, Brettler Place, Sandpoint Family Housing and New Beginnings Transitional Housing. We are also working to forge collaborations to serve homeless and addicted youth by adding a new program called Young Adult Services. We are expanding our co-occurring substance abuse and mental health program with the hire of David Flack and we are hoping to expand outpatient chemical dependency services soon to serve more low income youth on an outpatient basis.

Over time, Ryther has become known as both capable and willing to help children and teens with the most complex and challenging behaviors and diagnoses. Our reputation is being cemented as the “go-to” place to treat and hold higher end kids and families. We will continue to extend services to those who wouldn’t traditionally show up in an outpatient setting, so we will be in more schools and more homeless youth shelters. Ryther continues to often be the referral of choice for children coming out of inpatient psychiatric care or experiencing frequent visits to ER’s for mental health emergencies.

Ryther is also involved with training educators and helping them deal with issues like school refusal as well as providing oversight training for evidence-based therapies that can be adapted to a shorter duration. There will be more updates in the next few months and we will keep you apprised.

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