Your Rights as a Consumer of King County Mental Health Services
People who use mental health services have rights. You have the right to medically necessary mental health services. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have the right to create a plan of services with your agency to meet your unique, personal needs. You have a right to privacy. You have a right to start services within a reasonable amount of time.
Please contact your mental health agency or review the King County Mental Health Plan Brochure for a complete list of your rights as a consumer of mental health services.
Your mental health agency is required to offer information about your rights. This information includes complaint and grievance procedures. A supervisor at your mental health agency may be helpful in explaining your rights or advocating for you. You may also contact King County MHP Client Services staff at 206-263-8997 to discuss or get further explanation about your rights.
Getting Information and Support
There are several ways to get information and support about your mental health services:
King County Mental Health Ombuds
service can discuss your rights and assist you in problem solving. 206-205-5329.
King County Mental Health Client Services
staff are also available to provide similar help and information, at 206-263-8997.
- If you are in crisis, call the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222.
- If you need general information, call the Community Information Line at 206-461-3200 or 211.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a national organization with local chapters that offers support groups and information for clients and families about their rights.
- Greater Seattle: 1-800-782-9264; 206-783-9264
- NAMI Eastside: 425-885-6264
- NAMI South King County: 253-854-6264
Problem-solving and Complaints
You have the right to file a complaint or grievance about any problem with your mental health services. You also have the right to file a complaint or grievance if you are not able to get the mental health services that you need.
It is often very useful to discuss problems about your mental health services with your clinician or with his/her supervisor. However, you may also call either
The King County Ombuds Service and/or King County Mental Health Client Services will help you to find answers to your concerns at the lowest possible level. However, some complaints may become formal grievances if your complaint is not resolved through informal approaches or if you prefer a formal approach. The Ombuds Service or Client Services will also help you with grievance procedures, including preparation for a State of Washington Fair Hearing.
When trying to solve a problem it may be helpful to consider these steps:
- Educate yourself on the problem and the circumstances
- Review your rights as they apply to the situation
- Ask yourself exactly what is bothering you about the situation
- Think about what specifically you would like to change about the problem
- Think about what specifically would satisfy you and resolve your concern
- Assemble and share relevant documentation with others to help them understand
- Make an action plan of deliberate steps to tackle the problem
- Make notes before your conversations with others so you cover all of your points
- Take notes after your conversations with others to track the progress of getting your problem solved including items such as whom you spoke with, when you spoke to them and any agreements that were made in your conversation.
How to file a grievance
For all consumers receiving current services, the grievance process begins by writing a letter about your concerns to your mental health agency. This letter is called a "grievance letter." The letter needs to include a description of the problem and a specific description of what you believe would solve it.
If you are not currently in services and your grievance is about getting access to services, send your grievance letter to King County Mental Health Client Services at 401 Fifth Avenue Seattle, WA 98104 or call 206-263-8997.
More information about how to file a grievance.
Notices of Action
At some point you may receive a letter that refers to a "Notice of Action" about your mental health services. This document will notify you of a change in your services, such as an authorization for services or a termination or reduction in services. You have the right to appeal all such actions. King County Client Services or the King County Mental Health Ombuds Service can assist you with understanding and appealing Notices of Action.
The King County Mental Health Plan
Please see the King County Mental Health Plan for a description of services and other important topics about mental health.
Washington Department of Social and Health Services Mental Health Division
The Department of Social and Health Services Mental Health Division Web site contains useful information for mental health consumers.