Naomi Nam, Sofia Leotta, Mia Tavares
King County strives to remove the financial barriers that prevent youth from receiving long-term mental health care. According to Mental Health in America, 94.8 percent of Washington youth with private insurance have coverage for mental health, ranking Washington 8th in terms of youth coverage across the nation. Youth Eastside Services (YES) reflects this accessibility serving youth in Kirkland, Bellevue, and Redmond. YES strives to meet the mental-health needs of teenagers.
“Youth Eastside Services provides counseling in a variety of forms for youth and their families,” Debra Halela, the Director of Behavioral Health Services at YES, said. “Our goal is to try to reach as many youth and families as we can with the services we provide.”
The nonprofit emphasizes need-based support; the cost of their healthcare operates on a sliding scale based on income. Halea said that this ensures low-income families and teenagers are not excluded from treatment.
“If we are working with youth, and they don’t have a job, and they don’t want to access their parent’s insurance because their parents don’t know, then we’ll slide our fee down to zero,” Halela said. “We do what we can to make sure that there’s no obstacles to people getting the help that they need.”
Washington’s minor consent laws further enable teenagers to independently manage their mental-health care treatment. At 13 years old, minors no longer need parental consent to receive treatment.
“Providing confidential services [to youth] can provide an inroad to them getting help,” Halela said.
YES aims to offer flexibility in support. Services are based on a youth’s needs with treatment plans that are adapted for each individual. Plans incorporate techniques that are supported by mental-health research, ensuring that YES specialists properly approach specific issues.
“If people are struggling with difficult symptoms, we want to make sure that they get better faster,” Halela said. “There’s evidence-based treatment modalities that are researched to be the most effective.”
Teenagers who are interested in the healthcare provided by YES can get more information through their walk-in service. Though it is not required, YES recommends that teenagers call to guarantee an appointment and see what services are most accessible based on their location.