Skagit County: Stigma Learning Collaborative

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People in Skagit County, WA who struggle with mental health or substance use disorders often confront stigma that prevents them from accessing appropriate treatment. The stigma is held in place by a range of systemic factors, including a lack of cross-discipline understanding and collaboration.

Skagit County was selected as the Pacific Northwest’s initial location for the Learning Collaborative due to the county’s leadership in advancing thriving for all community members, without exceptions. That includes initiatives from North Sound Accountable Community of Health, the Population Health Trust, and the county’s unprecedented North Star Project.

We collaborated with Northwest ATTCNorthwest PTTC, and Skagit County Public Health to support this project and its resulting systems change initiatives by providing follow-up meetings for participants to discuss progress and next steps.


Coming Together to Rethink Behavioral Health – integrating practice, reducing stigma, and achieving outcomes

In July of 2023, we convened an in-person Leadership Collaborative to learn more about stigma, discuss effective strategies and take action at a system level within Skagit County. On July 11th and 12th (9 AM – 4:00 PM PST both days) at McIntyre Hall Conference and Performing Arts Center in Mount Vernon, WA, we focused on deepening collaboration across disciplines, exploring the best evidence about stigma, and understanding the conditions that make it possible to transform entrenched systems.

Our time together culminated with the identification of 1-2 stigma reduction initiatives that will be supported by the Technology Transfer Centers.

View resources, initiatives, and slides from this Learning Collaborative


Follow-Up Meetings

In September and December of 2023, follow-up meetings were held to allow time for participants to discuss individual change projects and interest in the various ideas for reducing stigma system change initiatives that were raised during our July meeting.

During our last follow-up meeting in March of 2024, Beth Ruth presented on Peers as Stewards of the Community initiative, and Dr. Debra Hansen provided a broad overview of Ripple Effects Mapping, an evaluation tool that helps understand both the intended and unintended impacts of an initiative.

Resources from the September & December meetings.


The Seven Vital Conditions for Health and Well Being: A Framework for Community Action in Skagit County

Following this Learning Collaborative, the TTCs organized a webinar to share how the Skagit County community is responding to the mental health and opioid crisis using the vital conditions as a framework for promoting community well-being.

This webinar provided an overview of the seven vital conditions for well-being and illustrated how the framework can be useful for conceptualizing holistic individual and community well-being. The presenters demonstrated how the framework can help address issues related to a community response to mental health and well-being, substance use disorder, and substance misuse prevention in Skagit County, WA, with the North Star Initiative. The framework is used by multiple state and federal agencies, including The Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience as a guiding framework to organize and take action on social determinants of health.

Watch webinar recording

Listen to podcast 



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