Time for Sacramento to Address California’s Mental Health Crisis – Orange County Registry

California is facing a mental health crisis that is tearing families apart due to addiction, self-harm, and other mental health-related tragedies. It is concerning that suicide is now the second leading cause of death among California youth, including those aged 15-24, according to a study by Let’s Get Healthy California. Unfortunately, due to various reasons such as lack of access to quality care, a shortage of mental health professionals, and systemic barriers preventing people of color from getting the help they need, nearly two-thirds of adults with mental illness and two-thirds of adolescents with major depressive episodes are not receiving treatment. Stigma and discrimination also exacerbate symptoms and make it more challenging to seek help.

Despite the need for expansive mental health services, California’s mental health system is underfunded and understaffed, particularly in rural areas, where access to mental health services is even more restricted. As a result, everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, is affected by this crisis. However, marginalized communities are disproportionately affected since African Americans and Latino Californians are less likely to receive mental health treatment, even though they are more likely to experience trauma and stress.

A comprehensive strategy to address this crisis is urgently needed, which includes prevention, early intervention, and treatment. This strategy must educate communities about mental health, reduce stigma, and provide culturally appropriate care. It should also train more mental health professionals and support them with fair compensation and resources. To highlight this issue, Corey Jackson, the representative of the 60th District of the House of Representatives, introduced two bills that focus on increasing access to mental health services in low-income communities.

The first bill, Congressional Bill 1451, provides funds to counties to establish inpatient and outpatient mental health emergency care units in communities where at least 70% of lunches are free or reduced. The measure also funds community health worker programs to provide mental health services to those who need them the most. The second bill, Congressional Bill 1450, requires K-12 schools, county departments of education, and charter schools to universally screen all students for adversity childhood experiences (ACE) and mental health conditions. AB 1450 also mandates that schools employ or contract at least one mental health clinician and at least one case manager to perform these critical life-saving tests. Lastly, the bill requires mental health clinicians conducting screening to develop and provide an action plan based on the results of the screening since early detection of ACE and mental health conditions has been shown to improve outcomes.

In conclusion, the mental health crisis in California is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and coordinated response. Action must be taken to address this issue since the risks are too high to ignore. It is time for everyone to unite to demand mental health justice in California.

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