Zia Larson's Ray of Light founder, Verneta Seaton joined NAMI Seattle on February 18 for Lobby Day. This was an important day in Washington State where the focus of the day was on mental health initiatives for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health). NAMILOBBY Day, as they call it, took place in the capitol of Olympia, WA where over two hundred people met with representatives from state legislative districts.
The emphasis was to bring attention to legislative measures that can advance the care and support of those dealing with mental health diagnosis and challenges. One such measure is H.B. 1876 that would offer support in teaching Early Child Mental Health skills. This legislative measure is aligned with Zia Larson Ray of Light Foundation's support of Early Psychosis Intervention, and would require the state to deliver infant and early childhood mental health counseling for parents and create a work-group to develop plans for school-based support for students that must include academic, social-emotional and behavioral supports. Advocates for H.B. 1876 say the initiative would make a significant impact for individuals and families by requiring training for school district staff on behavioral health.
Seaton was able to share her son, Zia’s story, and talk about the work of the foundation that advocates for educational initiatives and funding for mental health recovery. She expressed her support for those impacted by the HEN(House and Essential Needs) Program, and the need for increased funding to continue to provide essential items and rental assistance for people who are unable to work for 90 days because of a disability. The program has proven results in helping to stabilize individuals in transition to care.
Those who attended NAMILOBBI Day spoke to several state legislators and their staff. MS Seaton and the constituents with her were able to talk with representatives from District 43, Rep. Frank Chopp and Rep. Nicole Macri. Macri responded with passion and expressed commitment to work toward addressing mental health issues collectivley.
H.B. 1876 as presented in the Washington State legislature found that “there is a workforce shortage of 19 behavioral health professionals and that increasing medicaid rates to 20, a level that is equal to medicare rates, will increase the number of 21 providers who will serve children and families on medicaid. The bill was originally sponsored by Representatives Frame, Eslick, Appleton, Davis, Bergquist, Pollet, and Doglio. The legislature also found that there is a need to increase the cultural and linguistic diversity among children's behavioral health professionals and that hiring practices, professional training, and high-quality translations of accreditation and licensing exams should be implemented to incentivize this diversity in the workforce. The legislature intends to implement the recommendations adopted by the children's mental health work group in January 2019, in order to improve mental health care access for children and their families.”
The mission of Zia Larson's Ray of light Foundation is to honor the life of Zia Larson by working to encourage the acceptance of mental disease as readily as physical disease and to eradicate the stigmas associated with diagnosis and behaviors resulting from mental illness. We are working to help educate individuals, families, and communities of the devastating effects of brain disorders and improve the lives of people living with them.