Community groups came together to support county residents in need as part of the Night Out for Mental Health on Aug. 18.
Organizations such as the Stillaguamish Tribe, Cocoon House, and the Snohomish Health District all came out to talk about how they could help those struggling with substance use disorders or other mental health problems.
The event was held in Arlington and was hosted by local nonprofit organization the Center for Justice Social Work.
“We’re raising awareness around mental health, suicide awareness and opioid use. We really want to create more of a conversation in this community around normalizing that this happen and everyone who experiences it is still our neighbor,” said Kaitlyn Goubeau, founder and CEO of the Center for Justice Social Work.
The event was meant to give residents an opportunity to learn about the resources available around them.
“Giving the community an opportunity to come to one place and meet all these organizations in one place is great,” said Goubeau. “We’ve had one community member who has a family member struggling with addiction, so having her be here to meet friendly faces and learning how to access resources is really great.”
Community organizations were also able to connect with each other to work on how to improve services to those who may need them.
“I think this event is long overdue and mental health awareness is something that hasn’t been a focus in years past and decades past. It’s nice for all of us to come together and come up with some creative solutions,” said Matt Hickman, a community resource paramedic with North County Fire and EMS.
Jessica Stallings, a community health education manager with the Providence Institute for a Healthier Community, was glad that the event was put on.
“This is amazing to see local grassroots efforts taking place in our community,” said Stallings. “It’s also been really good to connect with other nonprofits that are doing similar work. It really takes a village and it’s good for us all to come together.”
A presentation from Snohomish County Opioid Outreach Specialist Amy Wheat was also provided to teach individuals about Narcan, a medicine used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“We all know that not only our county, but our country is having an epidemic of opioid overdoses,” said Wheat.
“In 2015, [Washington State Department of Social and] Health Services provided Narcan to all the law enforcement officers in Snohomish County. It was supposed to be a one-year pilot program and it ended up going for five years,” she added.
That program ended up saving around 300 lives in the county.
Goubeau said she was glad with how the event went.
“Hopefully, this will just be one of many, and more people can join in the future as well,” she said. “It seems like it could even be a quarterly thing. There really is a need for consistency in these conversations.”
The Center for Justice Social Work was started by Goubeau after she served as a social worker partnered with the Everett Police Department.
“I quickly realized how robust the problem was and how multi-faceted it was and I wanted to create an organization of my own that could be really creative in how we address things,” she said.
The city of Arlington was the first to contract with the organization. Goubeau said it has been great to create more programs as the organization grows.
More information about the organization is available at cjsw.org.