Behavioral and Mental Health Support

Why it matters:

Strong mental health is the foundation of strong families. When parents and caregivers struggle with behavioral or mental health challenges, it can impact everyone in the household. Here’s why support is crucial:

  • Children Thrive with Supported Parents: When parents struggle with mental health challenges, it can impact their children’s emotional well-being. Providing support for parents creates a healthier environment for children to grow.
  • Early Intervention is Key: Addressing mental health concerns early, especially in children, can prevent them from worsening and becoming chronic in adulthood.
  • Building Resilience: Mental health support equips parents and children with coping skills and resilience to navigate challenges, leading to stronger families.
  • Breaks the Cycle: Untreated mental health issues can be passed down through generations. Support helps break this cycle and create a healthier future for families.
  • Improved Overall Well-being: Mental health support promotes emotional well-being for both parents and children, leading to a happier and more fulfilling life for all.

Investing in behavioral and mental health support creates stronger families and a healthier community.

Data highlights

Parent/Caregiver Behavioral and Mental Health Support

Strong mental health is the foundation of strong families. When parents and caregivers struggle with behavioral or mental health challenges, it can impact everyone in the household.  Data caption: Social supports play a significant role in promoting physical and mental…

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What we’re working on:

Whatcom County is investing in its youngest residents! The voter-approved Healthy Children’s Fund supports programs and services for children (prenatal to age 5) and their caregivers, aligning with our Community Health Improvement Plan. Strategies supported through the HCF are identified by including (HCF) after them. 

  • Building strong connections and skills through peer support (HCF)
  • Strengthening mental and behavioral health resources and support for parents and caregivers and health care providers (HCF)
  • Developing an “All Hands Whatcom” community-wide response to address the epidemic of opioid use in Whatcom County.
  • Coordinating care for complex medical needs

Group Peer Support

The group peer support model offers a unique and powerful way to promote mental health and well-being. 

By connecting with others who understand, sharing experiences, and learning from each other, individuals can find strength, hope, and empowerment on their journey toward mental wellness. 

Benefits of Group Peer Support:

  • Reduced Isolation: Sharing experiences with others who “get it” can significantly decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Validation and Normalization: Hearing from others facing similar challenges can validate your feelings and normalize your experiences.
  • Learning and Sharing Coping Skills: Groups provide opportunities to learn new coping mechanisms and share successful strategies with others.
  • Building Confidence and Hope: Seeing others manage their mental health challenges can inspire hope and increase confidence in your own recovery journey.
  • Sense of Belonging and Community: Groups offer a sense of belonging and community, fostering valuable social connections.

For years, group peer support has been a powerful tool for building connection and belonging among parents and caregivers in Whatcom County. Building on this success, in 2024, we’re expanding our offerings through a partnership with GPS

Perinatal Mental Health Task Force

In Whatcom County, we see the connection: happy, supported parents lead to happy, thriving children. That’s why we’re focusing on perinatal mental health – the emotional well-being of parents during pregnancy and postpartum. The need is real:

  • Mood and anxiety disorders are the most common pregnancy complication, affecting 15-20% of parents nationally.
  • In Whatcom County with roughly 2,000 births a year, this translates to 400 parents potentially experiencing challenges each year.
  • Sadly, only 15% of those parents seek help, leaving 340 without the support they deserve.

The Perinatal Mental Health Task Force is working to build a better support system for Whatcom County parents & caregivers. This means:

  • Raise awareness: Educate the community about the challenges and joys of new parenthood, including perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
  • Normalize help-seeking: Encourage open conversations about PMADs and the importance of getting support.
  • Building a support network: Providing accessible and culturally relevant peer support for new families, fostering connection and understanding.
  • Provider Education: Equipping healthcare professionals to identify and address perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
  • Resource Hub: Maintaining a current list of PMADs support resources in Whatcom County.
  • Collaboration: Working alongside local organizations to champion the well-being of families and perinatal mental health.

Join us in creating a thriving Whatcom County where every parent and child has the support they need to flourish! Learn more on the Perinatal Mental Health Task Force’s website.