South Sound Behavioral Hospital, a mental health facility in Lacey, and drug abuse prevention community coalition Tumwater HOPES are exploring a potential partnership, representatives said during Tumwater’s Public Health Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 14.
After the two organizations presented an overview of their programs, Councilmember Leatta Dahlhoff asked South Sound Behavioural Hospital Chief Executive Officer TJ O'Reilly if they could find an opportunity to collaborate with Tumwater HOPES, which O'Reilly was enthusiastic to follow up on. Tumwater HOPES Coalition Coordinator Georgia Aust was also on board.
“I would really love to connect and talk about how we can support each other,” Aust said, adding that they could work together on programs for youth who have been impacted by other people afflicted with substance abuse.
During their presentations, representatives of Tumwater HOPES talked about substance use-related problems among youth, particularly the risks of daily alcohol, vaping, and substance abuse.
Aust noted that other than friends, a common way youth acquire marijuana is by stealing from their parent’s stash or by receiving it intentionally from their parents or older siblings.
The issue resonated with O’Reilly who shared that they talk about the same issues at their home and noted that the legalization of marijuana has made it more accessible for the younger generation.
“Marijuana has been legal out here for 10 years,” O’Reilly said. “That's created a situation where people are probably using marijuana at a younger age.”
“I remember when I was a kid, [the issue was with] beer and we could find beer. Now these kids are finding marijuana and beer.”
Regarding services for youth, O’Reilly told the committee that the hospital has a 13-bed inpatient unit for youth and an intensive outpatient program for those seeking to receive mental treatment outside the hospital. He noted that they also want to add an outpatient program in the school setting, which is something the two organizations could also collaborate on.
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