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Samantha Clark, MHA: behavioral health advocate in the Inland Northwest

Posted on May. 19, 2021 ( comments)

As Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development for the MultiCare Behavioral Health Network, Samantha Clark, MHA, sees behavioral health as a critical element of whole-person care.

“I believe that behavioral health care is a foundation for your physical being, your emotional being, your relationships with yourself and others, professional performance and overall satisfaction with life,” she says. “It’s an integral piece of just being human.”

Unfortunately, children, youth and adults often face barriers to effective behavioral health treatment. And the stress, isolation and disruption caused by COVID-19 has made the behavioral health crisis even worse.

For example, referrals for outpatient behavioral health services at MultiCare have more than doubled across the Inland Northwest communities we serve. Hospitals and emergency departments in the region are seeing more behavioral health cases, and there’s been a dangerous rise in suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, especially by teenagers and young adults.

“It’s such a relevant topic for our community, our colleagues and our employees, as well,” Samantha adds. “More than ever, I’m seeing services like Code Lavender (a donor-funded program that provides emotional support for health care workers) used. I’m getting employees reaching out simply because of my role, asking for assistance.”

For Samantha herself, teleworking has been a unique struggle of pandemic life. An extrovert by nature, she found herself missing that sense of fulfillment that comes from leading meetings, having in-person working sessions and going to work with staff on the frontlines.  

To restore her resilience, Samantha and her partner turned to mountain biking and hiking, along with activities that encourage structure, such as cooking every night and meal prep during the week. She’s also committed to walking her two dogs every day, allowing the fresh air and a little bit of distance to help her fully reengage.

“I focus on the good, too,” Samantha says. “There’s so much goodness that is happening if you look around. Philanthropic efforts, our continued health care heroes putting in the time and different movements within the community to help folks access services or provide support. It’s amazing when you look at how our health care system and our nation have grown in this time.”

Philanthropy, in particular, has inspired hope for Samantha during this unprecedented moment.

“Philanthropy is the catalyst to so much of the work that we hope to achieve here in the Inland Northwest,” she says. “It’s no secret that behavioral health is typically not a high-margin sector of health care, even though it’s such a high-need sector. Philanthropy efforts really help drive with expediency what we can do.”

In 2021, Samantha has already helped make a significant change for behavioral health in the Inland Northwest. During MultiCare Inland Northwest Foundation’s Heart Strings for Hope virtual concert, she shared her vision for ensuring that behavioral health care is accessible to everyone. The event raised more than $270,000, which will be used to expand MultiCare Behavioral Health services in local communities.

Behavioral health programs and services are more critical than ever. You can help increase access to behavioral health care by making a gift through the MultiCare Inland Northwest Foundation or MultiCare Behavioral Health Foundation.

About The Author

Shelby Taylor
Shelby is a Senior Communications Specialist with the MultiCare Foundations department.  More stories by this author
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