Introducing Susan McLaughlin, our new Behavioral Health and Recovery Division Director! 

King County DCHS welcomes Susan McLaughlin, Ph.D., as the new director of the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD).

Susan is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than twenty years of leadership experience in health, behavioral health, and social services as a clinician, researcher, and policy administrator.  

Her first day on the job will be September 11, 2023.

Happily, we are welcoming Susan back to DCHS and BHRD. Before Susan’s two most recent roles as the Director of the UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute and the Executive Director of HealthierHere, Susan worked in BHRD and DCHS from 1999 through 2017 where she eventually became the department’s Health and Human Services Administrator.   

“It is an honor to come back to King County and DCHS in this role, especially at this critical moment in time for behavioral health in our region and for the country,” said McLaughlin. “For most of my career I have focused on creating equitable access to effective care for children, youth, and adults experiencing mental health and substance use disorders. We have an opportunity to truly put the resources we have now, and in the future, to use by improving the current system and reimagining how we think about behavioral health treatment overall. I look forward to working with state and local partners to create a more robust and modernized system that focuses on treating the whole person.”    

The behavioral health and recovery division oversees access to behavioral health treatment and services throughout King County by contracting with more than 90 community-based provider agencies. As Division Director, McLaughlin will oversee the publicly-funded behavioral health treatment system serving King County residents. The work of the Crisis Care Centers initiative, the MIDD behavioral health fund, King County’s crisis services, and the first-of-its-kind Integrated Care Network are all within BHRD’s scope.   

Susan will closely partner with department leaders on additional DCHS initiatives, including Best Starts for Kids, the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy and Health Through Housing, along with cross-departmental work with Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“We are thrilled to have Susan on board as our behavioral health lead for the department,” said DCHS Director Leo Flor. “More than 60,000 King County residents rely on our behavioral health division for services and treatment. Susan’s experience in integrating physical health and behavioral health, innovating payment models, and improving health outcomes for communities will only strengthen this important work. Her expertise and urgency in expanding substance use treatment is vital as we continue to advance our response to this public health crisis. Susan’s focus on prevention, recovery, and health equity are what we need to transform our current underfunded system and meet the growing need for care.”  

Susan will work directly on the voter approved Crisis Care Centers initiative. The initiative, approved in April, will create same-day access to care for a person in crisis and will help reduce the severity of the crisis. By reducing the use of costly hospital stays and jails, the Crisis Care Centers can instead connect people to available treatment options, and other resources necessary to stabilize.  

Welcome back to BHRD, Susan!