We are committed to supporting your mental health and well-being

[6 min read]

In this article: 

  • Providence is committed to expanding access to mental health services. 
  • Providence has invested more than $10 million in our communities to expand menatl health services and resources. 
  • Watch a video featuring Dr. Arpan Waghray, CEO of Providence's Well Being Trust. 
  • If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org. A comprehensive list of mental health resources is available at wellbeingtrust.org/resources

To close out Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we spoke with Arpan Waghray, M.D., CEO of Providence’s Well Being Trust, a national foundation dedicated to advancing mental health nationwide and expanding access and improving clinical care outcomes within the Providence seven-state footprint. Providence’s Well Being Trust has set an audacious goal to expand access to mental health care to 1 million people in the Western United States by 2026.  

Dr. Waghray is a geriatric psychiatrist who started his career in Seattle at Swedish as medical director for behavioral health at Swedish Medical Center, overseeing inpatient and consultative psychiatric services. A nationally recognized mental health leader, Dr. Waghray served as the 2022 Chair of the American Hospital Association’s Behavioral Health Services Council, which helps shape the AHA’s behavioral health advocacy, policy, and resource development. Additionally, he serves on the Catholic Health Association’s Well-Being Taskforce and the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Healthcare systems and Financing.

Across the country, communities are facing a mental health and behavioral health care crisis. Some startling statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Health: 43.8 million adults experience mental illness each year and nearly 1 in 25 adults in America live with a serious mental illness. What’s bringing focus to this issue?    

Unfortunately, mental illness has been among the leading cause of disability worldwide and of preventable deaths, especially among young people for a long time. The increase in loneliness, lack of meaningful social connection, proliferation of technology and social media use have all contributed to an increase in mental health conditions.

If there is a silver lining following the COVID-19 pandemic, I would say there has been a greater willingness to normalize mental health and as a result there appears to be an increase in the number of people seeking help, which has brought more focus to this important topic.

Watch video: Dr. Arpan Waghray, CEO of Providence's Well Being Trust, discussed how we are advancing mental health care during his appearance on a recent edition of KING 5's New Day Northwest. 

Can you tell us what Providence and Providence Swedish are doing to address these issues?

Providence has made an organizational commitment to increase access to behavioral health care and support and create sustainable behavioral health services, close care gaps, and provide whole-person care within our own care delivery system as well as with community partners. 

In the past 18 months, Providence’s Well Being Trust has invested more than $10 million in our communities. We’re already seeing the impact, with 600,000 project lives impacted; 40 community partnerships; and 13,300 patients potentially receiving life-saving care for opioid use disorders, suicidality and depression. 

In response to the pressing challenges our communities face, we’ve  launched programs that directly address our communities’ greatest mental health needs. One example in Seattle and the Puget Sound region includes our groundbreaking addiction medicine programs, including our methamphetamine treatment program in Everett and programs in Ballard for substance-using pregnant people and short-term day treatment for those with psychiatric needs.  

Youth mental health is a special focus of your work and partnerships. Nearly 1 in 6 kids aged 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder annually and suicide is the second leading cause of death among kids aged 10-14. Tell us about some of those efforts and their impact.    

To help combat the devastating youth mental health crisis, Providence and Sounders FC forged a partnership to address and enhance youth mental health. A key component of this project includes a focus on improving mental health and wellness in local schools, starting with the Renton School District.

Funded by Providence’s Well Being Trust, virtual therapy services were launched throughout the Renton School District and provide access to more than 15,000 students. Since the launch of this service in August 2023, more than 1,200 virtual therapy sessions have been provided to those most in need. 

We also have Work2BeWell (W2BW), which is a mental health and wellness program focused on providing mental health resources and education for teens, parents, and educators. W2BW promotes teen wellness across the country and works to normalize the conversation about mental health and reduce the stigma that surrounds it.  

The pandemic brought to light the realities of stress among healthcare workers and their struggles with mental health and well-being. Can you tell us a little about how you are supporting Providence Swedish caregivers? 

Caring for the mental well-being of the health care workforce is not simply a priority but rather a precondition to delivering excellent care with compassion. As part of Providence’s commitment to supporting the mental wellness of caregivers, we developed No One Cares Alone (NOCA). NOCA is a comprehensive menu of programs and tools to support our diverse team of caregivers at every stage of their mental wellness journey. Resources are provided at no cost to our caregivers and members of their household including access to mental health therapy and resources such as mental health first aid training and suicide prevention training.  

Can you share some resources for people who may have loved ones struggling with mental health challenges or who may be struggling themselves?    

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org. A comprehensive list of mental health resources is available at wellbeingtrust.org/resources

 Learn more and find a physician or advanced care practitioner (ACP)

If you have questions about behavioral health services, Swedish is here for you. Contact Swedish Behavioral Health and Well-Being. We can accommodate both in-person and virtual visits.

Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options. You can also connect virtually with your provider to review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. And with Swedish ExpressCare Virtual you can receive treatment in minutes for common conditions such as colds, flu, urinary tract infections, and more. You can use our provider directory to find a specialist or primary care physician near you.

Information for patients and visitors

Additional resources

Mental health care disparities deserve our attention

Recognize and manage the signs of mental health struggles

Having a ruff recovery? Nikko the therapy dog is here to help.

At Swedish Ballard, care and support for adults with acute psychiatric needs

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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About the Author

Whether it's stress, anxiety, dementia, addiction or any number of life events that impede our ability to function, mental health is a topic that impacts nearly everyone. The Swedish Behavioral Health Team is committed to offering every-day tips and clinical advice to help you and your loved ones navigate mental health conditions.

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