205 W 5th Ave
Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
Monday - Friday
8 AM - 5 PM
Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Kittitas County, WA -
There is an underlying suffering happening in our community right now. In the last three months our community has lost six people due to overdose deaths. These deaths have meant that six families in our community have lost a son or a daughter. Six families have lost a family member who will no longer come home, who will no longer be able to seek the help they desperately needed. Six families, just in our community alone, lost a son or daughter and they are suffering these losses. For this writing we won’t talk about the national number of overdose deaths and their toll on communities across the nation. For this writing we will talk about those areas we know the most, our home in Kittitas County.
The Behavioral Health and Recovery Advisory Board meets monthly to discuss the issues our community faces on a regular basis. We listen to reports from board members who work in Emergency Services who tell us of the daily need citizens have for services in these areas. We listen to the monthly reports given by our local mental health and substance use disorder providers who have citizens walk in their doors daily with high level of needs in the areas of mental health and substance use disorders. We listen to our board members who are advocates for those in recovery from substance use and mental health disorders tell of the need for ongoing support for those who find a path to recovery. Over the last eighteen plus months while walking through the pandemic all these needs have only increased in all areas.
We must address these issues as a community. We owe it to families in our community to provide the critical support necessary to help our citizens who suffer from substance use and mental health disorders. We know, when people are given the necessary resources for treatment and ongoing support for both, mental health and substance use disorders, recovery is possible. These supports come in the form of treatment, counseling, access to medical and dental assistance, housing, and employment opportunities. The research and data support the reality that when a person is given access to these type of on-going supports their chances of leading a healthy and productive life increase greatly. Their families benefit from this, and our communities benefit from this.
Our county is doing great work to try to have a positive effect in these areas, but, we need much more support. Our Emergency Services providers are doing all they can to improve services and find ways to connect people to the treatment they need, but, without ongoing funding and support, they can only do so much. Treatment providers are here and ready to serve but need more counselors and other support staff so they can increase the services they provide, but struggle with recruitment due to our area being rural and our ongoing issues with affordable housing even for working professionals. Our corrections facility has great programs being spearheaded to intervene when people are incarcerated, and they are showing great promise, but will need more permanent funding as they move forward. Our community provides some supports for people who find a path to recovery but needs to have stronger levels of support to help people sustain their life in recovery. This will only happen with ongoing support through funding and community engagement.
Our community members who have found a life in recovery are integral members of our county. They are our neighbors and our co-workers. Their children attend schools with our children. They pay taxes and own businesses in the county. People who find a path to sustained recovery from mental health and substance use disorders are citizens of our county just like any other citizens. We owe it to all the families in our county to do all we can to help as many people as possible find a path to recovery from these health conditions.
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us
Brett Wachsmith, Chair of Behavioral Health and Recovery Advisory Board, 509-962-7508
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.