Giving Thanks to Frontline Behavioral Health Workers

Group with masks smiles for photo
BHRD Director Kelli Nomura (center) and the nominated behavioral health heroes at the gratitude lunch

On Friday, April 9, Kelli Nomura, director of the King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD), spoke at a lunch event to say thank you to frontline behavioral health workers at Recovery Café. Kelli shared a few words of gratitude to honor the 14 Recovery Café frontline workers who were nominated as behavioral health heroes.

The gratitude lunch was organized by the King County Recovery Coalition (KCRC) as part of their “Gratitude for the Frontlines” project, which honors behavioral health frontline workers throughout the county for the vital role they play in making recovery possible for so many.

Watch a short video recapping the event here.

KCRC, a longtime King County partner, works to advance substance use recovery and mental wellness by changing public understanding of behavioral health conditions and advocating for policies that support recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of frontline work in behavioral health even more apparent. Too often, the people who provide vital care and have a lasting effect on people’s mental health or substance use journey, are underpaid, undervalued, and underappreciated. On top of that, many folks in these frontline roles are BIPOC, and are often compensated even less due to systemic discrimination.

“I want to acknowledge that the past 12 months have been a year of tremendous challenge,” Kelli Nomura said. “Each of you rose up to meet that challenge. That takes strength, courage and kindness. You have given so much of yourselves—and you continue to give.”

The core of BHRD’s work is finding opportunities for people to be healthy, happy, and connected to community. This work is only made possible through partnerships. We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve built over the years with both King County Recovery Coalition and Recovery Café.

Recovery Café delivers services through a unique and effective peer support model. Because of their lived experience, each of the frontline workers honored at the lunch is uniquely able to provide support, encouragement, and resources to help those living with substance use challenges, homelessness, trauma, and other mental health challenges.

At BHRD, we are investing in our partnership with Recovery Café. King County used funds from the MIDD Behavioral Health sales tax to fund a sizable portion of the new SODO location of Recovery Café, which has helped make it possible to triple the number of people served. We also fund a staff position at Recovery Café who helps organize peers in recover and provides recovery coaching.

You can learn more about the “Gratitude for the Frontlines” project or nominate a behavioral health hero at KCRC’s website here.