July 16, 2021

About 50 of the roughly 1,000 people interviewed for this story, many of whom were young adults, said they did not feel as though their mental-health care was valued.

“I just feel like, I feel like the healthcare is just not valued,” said Jessica M. Pernick, 22, who is from Seattle.

“And it’s not a priority for me, because I don’t have my own job.”

Some also said that the cost of getting care at the community mental health center is prohibitive.

The Seattle center was the site of a mass shooting in April that left six people dead and wounded at least 70 others.

About 50 percent of its patients had at least one mental-illness diagnosis and about 60 percent had a substance-abuse problem, according to the center’s website.

A recent survey by Kaiser Health News found that about two-thirds of people who were hospitalized at the facility were not discharged within four weeks.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said that Kaiser Health also conducted a survey in 2016 of its own clients, and found that almost three-quarters of those patients did not receive mental health services.

That said, most of those who were discharged said they had sought treatment, either from the hospital or a community mental-service provider.

But they did have some questions about their care: “My experience, if you can call it that, is very different than what you would get in a facility,” said Maryann C. Johnson, 29, who said she has bipolar disorder and has been in and out of hospital since she was 15.

“There are things that you don’t really see and hear.”

Many people said they feel isolated at the mental-care facility because they are not employed or in school, and that it was hard to find someone to talk to about their mental illness.

“A lot of the people who are in the facility don’t know anyone else, they don’t live in a lot of different neighborhoods, they have very few resources and they have to be constantly on their toes,” said Alexia J. Smith, 29.

“You know what I mean?”

Another respondent, David S. Smith of New York, said he has bipolar and schizophrenia.

He said he feels as if he is not included in mental health efforts because he is unemployed.

“It’s hard to be in the community,” he said.

“We’re not talking about mental illness, but mental health is a privilege.”

The mental-hygiene center is operated by the Seattle-based nonprofit Mental Health Washington, which was formed in 2012 by former state lawmakers to improve the mental health of the state’s poor and uninsured.

Its primary goal is to reduce barriers to care and provide better treatment to people who need it.

Its director, Deborah Haney, has said the center was created to be a model for community mental hospitals.

She said the Seattle facility is the only one in the state that is operated with federal money.

The state has provided more than $100 million in federal money since 2011, most for mental-hospital construction.

The Center for Community Care, a nonprofit that runs the center, said it received more than 1,400 calls for mental health help in 2016, including 6,700 from the homeless.

But the center said it does not track the number of people seeking mental health treatment.

About half of its clients had at at least two mental-diseases diagnoses and about 40 percent had substance-abuse problems, according the center.

It said the average stay at the Seattle center is about 10 days, and about one-third of its homeless clients said they were homeless.

The center said that it does have some resources available to people with mental illness at the center and in the surrounding neighborhood.

But many people said their mental and substance-use problems were not addressed.

Some said they thought the homeless population was more likely to be suicidal, while others said they believed it was a source of stress for the mentally ill.

One woman said she had been in treatment at the shelter for six months when she arrived, but that she still feels isolated.

“They treat you like a prisoner,” she said.

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