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May 2021

Message from the Chair

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful spring we are having and the new freedoms that have come along with more widely accessible vaccines! I know that we are not ‘out of the woods’ yet with regards to the pandemic and that we are facing continuing challenges and uncertainties related to child care, return to work plans, and other questions. I am tremendously grateful for everyone’s hard work and commitment to our mission and to our organization’s support throughout this challenging year.

May was a terrific month for mental health in Washington State. A few weeks ago, the University of Washington announced a $38 million investment by Ballmer Group to address Washington’s behavioral health workforce shortage. The gift includes $21 million to UW’s School of Social Work to support students pursuing master’s programs in social work and mental health counseling. Another $11.5 million will support three new initiatives led by UW Medicine:
  • $3.5 million to the UW Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences to create an undergraduate training program for Behavioral Health Support Specialists (BHHS) in partnership with Washington state colleges. Read more
  • $5.5 million to the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) at Harborview Medical Center to establish statewide behavioral health apprenticeship programs for early and mid-career professionals in partnership with community agencies.
  • Nearly $3 million for the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center to work closely with partners on a redesign of Washington’s behavioral health crisis response system.
This announcement came on the heels of another year of significant commitments from our state legislature to strengthen our behavioral health infrastructure – including $200 million to complete the new Behavioral Health Teaching Facility (BHTF) that will open its doors on the Northwest Campus of UW Medical Center in the fall of 2023, additional funds to redesign and rebuild the existing geropsych unit at UWMC Northwest, and the recent vote in King County to support a bond measure that will include a new building for the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) on the campus of Harborview Medical Center. The legislature also committed funding to increase the number of child psychiatry fellows and psychiatry residents in our department, to continue funding the Integrated Care Training Program (ICTP), to support the BHI’s training and workforce development programs, and to permanently fund PAL for Moms, our consultation line for providers caring for pregnant or postpartum patients.

We also received generous philanthropic donations to start a new Population Mental Health Rotation in our Psychiatry Residency Program, to conduct research on how social media can be used to help people identify the intentions that lead to a better life, and to study how stressors, coping strategies and social support influence the initiation and persistence of suicidal ideation from adolescence through early adulthood. I am so grateful for these gifts that are strengthening our capacity to help individuals and families living with mental health and addiction problems in our state.

Finally, I want to share with you the exciting news that the UW Medicine Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions is awarding $1.3 million to 13 technology-driven initiatives that aim to improve brain health and mental health. When combined with the initial round of Innovation Grants announced earlier this year, the Garvey Institute is now supporting 24 Innovation Projects led by faculty and staff from 9 UW schools and colleges, 20 departments and divisions, a number of centers and institutes, and all three UW campuses. These projects have tremendous potential to make a difference for individuals and families struggling with mental health, addiction, and other brain health problems over the next few years.

One of the ‘silver linings’ of the pandemic has been the broad realization at the level of employers, schools, communities, and our state government that mental health is an incredibly important part of all health. I am grateful for the substantial investments in new facilities and programs, and I will be looking to all of you to make the most of these new opportunities and to recruit, train, and retain the additional talent that we will need to succeed.


Please help us welcome our new faculty and staff!

Megan Boyd joined the department in May 2021 as a Program Coordinator for Dr. Eric Trupin. Megan has a degree in Psychology and Crisis Counseling and has worked in direct service for many years as an employment specialist and domestic violence advocate. Most recently, she was a Program Coordinator with Downtown Emergency Service Center at the Crisis Solutions Center. Megan helped manage three projects within the Crisis Center, including a mobile crisis team and two jail/hospital diversion shelters for clients experiencing behavioral health crises. Outside of work, Megan enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and/or her pup- especially in the sun. When Seattle weather does not allow for that, she loves being creative and doing artsy things or going to shows/concerts (pre-covid). If you would like to reach out to Megan and say hello, her email is

Jessica (Jessie) Goodman, MD, has joined the department as the Women’s Mental Health Fellow for 2021-2022. She is currently a PGY-4 resident and chief resident in our psychiatry residency program. Jessie has had a longstanding interest in women’s health and has a rich background in public and behavioral health prior to medical school and residency. Jessie has worked as a substance use counselor, as an outreach advisor helping foster youth develop independent living skills and as a research assistant on studies identifying risk factors for breast cancer and developing interventions to reduce cancer health disparities. She completed a Master’s degree in Health Science in Cancer and Reproductive Biology at Johns Hopkins and her MD at George Washington University. During her psychiatry residency here, she has completed a perinatal psychiatry rotation and scholarly project and will graduate with an area of distinction in perinatal psychiatry/women’s mental health. She is particularly interested in perinatal addictions, consultation, and collaborative care.

Alexis Karlson, MSW, joined the department in April 2021 as a Project Manager with Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (Northwest MHTTC). Her background is in social work and disseminating evidence-based practices to those working in mental and behavioral health. Alexis’s area of expertise is in business operations and administration of training programs. Prior to UW, Alexis worked as Director of Business Operations for Behavioral Tech, the organization created by DBT founder Marsha Linehan, to provide training and technical assistance to DBT providers and programs. Outside of work, Alexis enjoys art journaling, yoga and spending time with her family. If you would like to reach out to Alexis and say hello, her email is

Grace Stewart joined the department in May 2021 as a Research Study for the Research in Autism and the Brain Lab (RAB Lab). Since graduating from Seattle University with a BS in Psychology in 2019, Grace has worked at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences as a Research Assistant where she primarily assisted with data collection on brain imaging studies with infants and children. When Grace is not working, she enjoys baking and cooking new recipes, along with hiking and camping to explore more of Washington. If you would like to reach out to Grace and say hello, her email is

Alexa Yadama joined the department in April 2021 as a Maternal-Child Mental Health Program Student Assistant. Alexa recently graduated from UW with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and is now pursuing her MPH in Epidemiology. She previously worked at Public Health Seattle King County and did some environmental health research as an undergrad. Before starting this position, Alexis worked with the Seattle Flu Study helping with COVID-19 testing at homeless shelters in the greater Seattle area. She is eager to work in maternal-child health and has truly enjoyed learning from this new position so far! Outside of work, Alexis loves to run, hike, and in pre-pandemic times played ultimate frisbee with the UW club team and a Seattle women’s club team. If you would like to reach out to Alexa and say hello, her email is

New policy extends Medicaid Coverage for first year postpartum
Governor Inslee recently signed a bill that allows for one-year of postpartum Medicaid coverage for Washingtonians with an income at or below 193% of the federal poverty level. It makes permanent a provision put in place during the COVID 19 pandemic. This bill was based on recommendations from the WA State Maternal Mortality Review Board which included two of our faculty, Amritha Bhat, MD, MPH, and Ian Bennett, MD, PhD.

Maternal mortality rates in the United States continue to be higher than most other high income countries. Almost half of all the births in the Washington State (and 66% of births to Black women) are covered by Medicaid. Traditionally, Medicaid coverage in the perinatal period ends at 60 days postpartum, leading to unsafe gaps in healthcare at an important time in the lives of new parents and their infants. The hormonal, physical and emotional changes that occur following delivery, and the adaptation to new roles and family structures can last much longer 60 days and can require more than one healthcare encounter.

As a result of this new bill, new mothers will no longer abruptly lose Medicaid coverage in the vulnerable postpartum period. Stable and uninterrupted care will lead to better health and mental health outcomes for both the birthing parent and the child. This policy change is an important opportunity to begin to address longstanding inequities in postpartum healthcare. Black people, people of color and people with low income are more likely to lose healthcare coverage in the postpartum period and experience discontinuity of care. Medicaid expansion can support comprehensive postpartum mental health, substance use and physical health care and can potentially reduce disparities in maternal mortality.

Garvey Institute gives $1.3 million boost to technology-driven solutions for brain health
In its second round of funding, the UW Medicine Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions is awarding $1.3 million for technology-driven solutions that aim to improve brain health. The new awards will go to 13 UW faculty-led teams representing seven UW schools and colleges, 14 departments and divisions and numerous UW- and community-based centers, institutes and organizations. A formal announcement will be made June 1, 2021.

The focus on technology for this second round of funding was driven by the need to develop novel approaches that can reach large numbers of people impacted by brain disorders, as well the depth of technological innovation and expertise found throughout the UW. Topics range from using deep learning to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and predict its progression to using computerized algorithms to reduce the risk of suicide.

The Institute was founded last October with a $50 million donation to UW Medicine by local philanthropists Lynn and Mike Garvey, with a goal to fast-track treatments for patients with mental health, addiction, and other brain health problems. The newly funded Innovation Grants join 11 projects that are already underway to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by cognitive aging, trauma and addictions.

Faculty and staff involved in the 24 active Innovation grants come from a total of 9 UW schools and colleges, 20 departments and divisions, and all three UW campuses. The work is taking place in multiple locations including the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center. The full list of Garvey Institute partners and collaborators shows the Institute’s commitment to further brain health across the University of Washington as well as locally, regionally and nationally.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty are involved in several of these projects: A full list of projects, collaborators and descriptions is available on the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions website.

Ballmer Group funds new program to train Behavioral Health Support Specialists
Washington has a shortage of mental health care specialists with more than half of its counties lacking a single practicing psychiatrist or psychologist. The result is that many people’s mental health conditions go untreated. For those who get care, the majority are treated solely with medication despite a consistent preference for having psychosocial treatments. Individuals from ethnic minority groups, older adults, people with low socioeconomic status and people living in rural areas are at greatest risk of not receiving effective psychosocial treatment.

A $3.7 Million gift from Ballmer Group will help us develop a new program that aims to train bachelor-level practitioners as behavioral health support specialists (BHSS) to deliver evidence-based psychosocial treatments in primary care and other medical settings. The goal is to establish a new workforce of bachelor-level mental health providers over the next five years to help increase access to effective mental health care in Washington state. A new provider type with lower entry barriers and educational requirements may help us engage a larger and more diverse workforce in providing effective mental health care and create a robust pipeline for individuals who will go on to get additional training as mental health professionals. The new program will include curriculum development, training, practicum oversight and coordination with educational partners in the state’s four-year colleges. The hope is that by the end of the 5-year project, 50 students will be trained as Behavioral Health Support Specialists every year to help serve the needs of vulnerable individuals and communities across the state.

Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, will provide overall project direction and oversight. Patricia Arean, PhD, and Patrick Raue, PhD, will support curriculum development and Michele Roe will provide project support.

New Population Mental Health Rotation will pilot next year
The Psychiatry Residency Program is excited to launch a new Population Mental Health Rotation next year thanks to a generous donation from The Quell Foundation. The gift will support the development and implementation of a population mental health curriculum for psychiatry residents that focuses on the delivery of mental health care to a population of patients.

Our Department is a global leader in developing and implementing new approaches and technologies that leverage existing psychiatrists and connect people suffering with mental illness to mental health specialists and care. The Quell Foundation gift will ensure that research and clinical advances in population-based mental health care reaches new psychiatrists just beginning their career.

Residents will be taught how to deliver mental health and suicide prevention using integrated care models and tele-behavioral health. The rotation will be piloted at the University of Washington and once finalized, made publicly available to any residency program interested in implementing the rotation.

The delivery of population-level mental health care improves access to care for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) populations, groups that disproportionately receive no or ineffective care. The rotation will teach psychiatrists how to assess the psychiatry and suicide prevention needs of the organizations they work with including the populations they serve and the social determinants of health most relevant to the populations.

Brittany Mosser receives UW Together We Will Award
Congratulations to Brittany Mosser, MSW, LICSW, Manager of the ALACRITY Center and CREATIV Lab, for receiving the 2021 Together We Will Award from UW President Ana Mari Cauce! The UW Together We Will Awards were created to celebrate outstanding staff contributions made during the extraordinary challenges of 2020, serving as a temporary replacement for the Distinguished Staff Award program. Nominated by Patricia Arean, PhD, and Patrick Raue, PhD, Brittany was selected for contributing to the successful implementation of funded studies involving community-dwelling older adults and rural populations, a challenging task as older adults are a vulnerable and underserved population and are at even higher risk to mental health conditions due to increased social isolation associated with the COVID pandemic.

Brittany was also instrumental in looking for funding mechanisms to support on-going research under COVID, as well as funding opportunities that were meaningful in addressing the needs of our communities. Her work resulted in four awards, one from our department and three from NIMH to study the impact of COVID19 on older adults, to create a novel social isolation prevention program called Stay Connected (which is being considered for adoption by King County Housing Authority), a study on how essential workers and those unemployed under COVID19 are coping emotionally, and which mobile health apps (if any) they are using to cope, and a national study to determine how hospitals are providing emotional resources for front line workers. Read more about Brittany’s work and all Together We Will awardees
For upcoming events, please visit the UW Psychiatry calendar .
Copyright © 2021 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington. All rights reserved.
University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
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Seattle, WA 98195

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