Idaho promotes safe communities through added investments in behavioral health resources

Tuesday April 5, 2022

Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little joined Idaho Supreme Court justices, legislators, members of his administration, and others today in highlighting tens of millions of dollars in new funding to advance the state’s behavioral health priorities.

The Legislature approved all of the Governor’s “Leading Idaho” proposals for increased behavioral health resources this session. The proposals grew out of recommendations from the three-branch Behavioral Health Council’s strategic plan.

“Promoting safe communities is our top priority. Our vision is for Idahoans who live with mental illness and addiction – and their families – to receive the behavioral health care services they need when they need them. We believe if this vision is realized, then our communities will become healthier, safer places,” Governor Little said.

Governor Little highlighted the following behavioral health successes from his “Leading Idaho” plan this legislative session:

  • 9-8-8 – Idaho is conforming to the new national suicide and crisis lifeline. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen and expand the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in Idaho. 9-8-8 is easy to remember and available to Idahoans in need. It directly connects Idahoans to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Calls and texts to 9-8-8 will become live July 16, 2022.
  • Community behavioral health clinics that stabilize people in crisis and provide necessary treatment for those with the most serious, complex mental illnesses and substance use disorders
  • Recovery centers that provide critical services for people in recovery from behavioral health or substance use disorders to receive the support they need
  • Psychiatric residential care facilities and programs, allowing us to bring children back to Idaho who were receiving these services elsewhere
  • Safe teen reception centers that provide a placement option for arrested or runaway youth and connect their families with long term community-based resources, avoiding further entrance into the juvenile justice and child welfare systems
  • Youth crisis centers across the state for youth safety, stabilization, and immediate case management services

Details on the priorities are available here:

In addition, Governor Little applauded the passage of Senate Bill 1327, which properly defines someone who is mentally ill and restores the safety net for involuntary commitments to ensure those who might be in crisis have full access to care, as well as House Bill 699, which ensures first responders, our front line for traumatic events, can rely on the support of peer specialists – a proven and effective tool in behavioral health treatment – while maintaining privacy.

The three-branch Behavioral Health Council was established in 2020. All five Idaho Supreme Court justices and legislative leaders joined Governor Little for the signing of an executive order creating the council. At that time, the Idaho Supreme Court also issued a proclamation, and the Legislature passed a concurrent resolution supporting the council.

“This has been a historic three-branch collaboration to study the state behavioral health delivery system and improve care for Idahoans with mental health and substance use disorders. Never before have the executive, legislative, and judicial branches come together to make a shared vision on behavioral health become reality,” Governor Little added.

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