What is the Office of Behavioral Health Advocacy (OBHA)?

At OBHA, our mission is to improve the quality of behavioral health services delivered to Washington State’s residents. To achieve this, we offer the following three core services:

  1. OBHA provides free assistance, support, and advocacy to any individual who is currently receiving or is in need of access to behavioral health services in Washington State. With a statewide office as well as offices in each of the state’s 10 regions, we work with individuals, providers, and facilities to ensure that behavioral health service recipients’ rights are respected and that the services they are receiving meet their needs.

  2. We provide input and recommendations to local, regional, and statewide entities regarding changes in laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that will improve behavioral health services, service access, and service delivery.

  3. We deliver behavioral health-related training for community members, service providers, and other stakeholders.


OBHA is replacing the former behavioral health ombuds program.

What is a Behavioral Health Advocate?

A Behavioral Health Advocate also called an ombudsman or ombuds, is an individual employed by Peer Washington who has lived experience of navigating within the behavioral health system. An Advocate is equipped to assist individuals with any concerns they may have regarding services they are receiving from a behavioral health service provider. They are also able to assist individuals who are experiencing barriers accessing behavioral health care. An Advocate’s role is to support an individual with the information, tools, and resources they need to advocate on their own behalf, or when requested by the individual, to step in to mediate or advocate on an individual’s behalf with a service provider.


Who is Eligible for Behavioral Health Advocate services?

Any persons receiving behavioral health services or trying to access behavioral health services.


How can the Behavioral Health Advocate (Advocate) help me?

A Behavioral Health Advocate can provide information, resources, and peer support. They will help you or your designated representative to navigate through the behavioral health system and identify the steps you can take to resolve any issues with services you are experiencing. An Advocate can also assist you in the following ways:

  • Making a Complaint: This is an informal process of working with a behavioral health provider to resolve issues of service quality, type, access, or delivery. The specific process varies by type of provider.

  • Filing a Grievance: This formal process includes the filing of a grievance with the organization that is funding the services, such as the Behavioral Health Administrative Service Organization (BH-ASO) or the Managed Care Organization (MCO).

  • Submitting an Appeal: An appeal can be made if a client or their designated representative disagrees with an action a funder has taken regarding behavioral health services, such as denying, changing, or terminating services.

  • Requesting an Administrative Hearing: An administrative hearing can be requested if an individual disagrees with the outcome of their appeal or if a funder failed to meet the grievance timeline without filing for an extension.


Can I file a complaint and a grievance at the same time?

No, a complaint and a grievance cannot be filed at the same time for the same issue. Once a complaint or grievance has been filed, a client must wait for that process to be completed. If a client is not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint, a grievance can then be filed.

Is there a cost for Behavioral Health Advocacy services?

Services are free of charge

What can’t a Behavioral Health Advocate do?
  • Give you legal advice

  • Serve as your case manager

  • Guarantee a specific outcome

What can a Behavioral Advocate do?
  • Listen to your concern

  • Research the situation

  • Provide you with consultation

  • Serve as your advocate

  • Assist you in resolving the issue at the lowest possible level

  • Assist you in filing an appeal

  • Check back with you to ensure you haven't experienced retaliation

  • Assist in the preparation for a State of Washington Fair Hearing

We provide a no wrong door service. If your concerns fall outside of the Behavioral Health Advocates service jurisdiction, we will refer you to the appropriate agency.

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