October is Disability Awareness Month. Disability includes a broad spectrum of conditions that effect physical and mental health. If you are someone who lives with a mental health diagnosis and would like additional support, here are benefits and resources for your consideration.
Mental Health Accommodations
King County is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to all its employees and applicants for employment to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including mental health conditions, enjoy equal access to all employment opportunities. Read more about mental health accommodations here.
If you need assistance with accommodation in the workplace, talk to your Human Resources representative, supervisor, the Department of Human Resources’ Disability Services staff at 206-263-9329 or DisabilityServices@kingcounty.gov, or the Metro Transit Department’s Disability Services Staff at TransitDisabilityServices@kingcounty.gov.
Better Choices, Better Health
For many people with long-term health conditions, small lifestyle changes can result in big improvements. Better Choices, Better Health offers you strategies to manage conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, pain, depression, and more. Each program lasts six weeks. You’ll learn how to become more active, boost your energy, eat and sleep better, and improve your overall well-being. Sessions are online or in person and led by trained facilitators who have personally managed long-term health conditions, so they understand what you’re experiencing. You’ll also meet other people facing similar challenges who can help keep you motivated.
“The weekly coaching and counseling sessions were a great way to reinforce goals and check-in on progress. Also, the 8 week program was the right amount of time to change behavior. The worksheet and tools were helpful to guide the weekly discussions and apply for future issues.”Testimonial from a King County employee’s benefit covered spouse
AbleTo is an online behavioral health program offered to Regence BlueShield members who are enrolled in either the KingCare or KingCare Select medical plan.
AbleTo is for individuals who have both mental and medical health needs. The program helps people manage the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with a medical condition, such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, heart attack or diabetes, or a recent life event, such as divorce, job loss, or loss of a loved one. The program provides support from licensed therapists, behavioral coaches, and digital tools and activities.
AbleTo identifies and contacts members who qualify for this program. Participation is free and voluntary. Participants meet one-on-one with a licensed therapist and behavioral health coach who guide them through a personalized eight-week program proven to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. The program uses evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods to teach you skills designed to help you feel better and live better.
How to Find a Mental Health Care Provider
As a King County employee, you have access to comprehensive health care coverage, including mental health coverage. Whether your insurance provider is Kaiser or Regence, there are robust tools at your fingertips to connect you with a mental health care provider.
Mental health care providers include psychiatrists, psychologists, or master’s level therapists. They treat a wide range of conditions, from temporary anxiety brought on by stress, to longer-lasting conditions like bipolar disorder. Your provider will work closely with you to offer guidance and help improve your ability to achieve life goals.
Mental Health Care for Kaiser Members
To access a mental health care provider outside of the primary care setting, or find addiction treatment, call 1-888-287-2680, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For an online option, log into your Kaiser account and start a secure message or care chat. No referral is needed to access mental health services or wellness resources. More information on the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health page.
You will be asked a few questions to determine your mental health needs. The questions also help to match you with a specialist you’ll feel comfortable with. You will then be referred to a Kaiser Permanente clinician or a community provider in your plan network, depending on your care needs and where you’re located.
Mental Health Care for Regence Members
Regence’s online directory includes provider’s race/ethnicity and languages spoken.
Regence members have access to Quartet, a service that connects you to the mental health care that’s right for you. Whether it’s therapy, psychiatry, or other care options, visit: qrt.care/kingcounty and Quartet will match you to mental health care that fits your needs. No referral is needed, and Quartet’s platform and services are free for you to use. Note: Quartet only does referals for adults.
When you contact Quartet, their Care Navigators will verify your insurance and ask a few questions about you and your needs. Then, a matched provider will reach out to you to set up an appointment. If, after your first appointment, the provider doesn’t feel like a good fit, just let Quartet know and they’ll match you to another. Quartet’s Care Navigators are available every step of the way to help you understand your options.
Dr. on Demand
Avoid the high cost and long wait of the emergency room and see a board-certified physician or licensed psychologist, 24/7. Connect with a provider in minutes, face to face right from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Video visits are convenient and fit into your schedule. Visit doctorondemand.com/regence-wa to get started.
Join an Affinity Group
Affinity Groups offer a space to connect, network and find support and fellowship. The King County Disability Equity Network (KCDEN) was established in late 2021 to center and support the voices and experiences of employees who self-identify as having a disability. Members work collectively to advance the following goals:
- Create opportunities for peer-to-peer support and resource sharing
- Ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities at work and in the community
- Address ableism and removing barriers in the workplace
- Address intersectionality with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized identities
- Inform policy and other decisions that impact persons with disabilities in King County.
Interested employees will not be asked to disclose any information about one’s disability.
Mental Health Support for Children and Teens
Find child and teen mental health resources at Washington Patient Access Line (WAPAL), a state-funded service that provides referrals for children, teens, and their parents to mental health therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in children’s mental health. You’ll receive personalized attention and a referral to a provider. The service is free. Call 833-303-5437.
In 2022, the new 988 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline went into effect. Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic only increased the mental health challenges we face. 988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Mental health or substance use crisis
- Any other kind of emotion distress.
Call or text 988 if you or someone you know is in crisis.