Steinberg Institute

Policy Priorities 2016

AB 168 – (Maienschein): Mental Health: Community-Based Services (Sponsor)

This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to develop and submit a proposal to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to be selected as a participating state in the time-limited Program designed to improve access to community mental health and substance use treatment services provided by certified community behavioral health clinics.

This bill dramatically increases federal funds for mental health and substance use treatment services, with no cost to the state or the county, helping to serve more people who are homeless due to a mental illness and to keep them off the streets, out of hospitals and jails, and into treatment.

AB 1025 – (Thurmond): Public Student Health Pilot Program (Co-Sponsor)

This bill would require the State Department of Education to establish a 3-year pilot program in in select school districts where 60% of the student body is eligible for a free or reduced-price meal program. This program will target the behavioral, emotional, and academic needs of pupils with multitiered and integrated mental health, special education, and school climate interventions.

Students in disadvantaged communities face relational and environmental stressors that, when left unaddressed, hinder their ability to achieve their full potential. Compounding traumatic stressors including poverty and exposure to violence have been found to negatively affect student academic achievement, learning and emotional development. To prevent worsening of mental illness symptoms, juvenile delinquency, and falling behind and dropping out of school, this bill seeks to meet the special mental health needs of at-risk children.

AB 847 – (Mullin): Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (Sponsor)

Allocates $1 million of MHSA for Department of Health Care Services to apply for federal grant program to fund certified community behavioral health clinics. Signed by Governor, Chapter 6.

AB 1299 – (Ridley-Thomas): Out of County Foster Youth Mental Health Services (Co-Sponsor)

This bill would ensure that foster children who are placed outside of their county of original jurisdiction are able to access mental health services in a timely manner consistent with their individual strengths and needs and the requirements of the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Program standards and requirements.

Approximately 12,000+ foster youth are placed across county lines at any given time in California.  These youth often experience lengthy delays in accessing behavioral health services during a particularly vulnerable and traumatic time of change. This bill would ensure that foster children who are placed outside of their county of jurisdiction, will have fewer barriers to accessing needed mental health services. Signed by Governor, Chapter 603.

AB 1618 – (Committee on Budget) – No Place Like Home

Establishes groundbreaking policy to create permanent supportive housing for individuals living with a serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.   This bill uses a small percentage of the The Mental Health Services Act funds to leverage up to a $2 billion revenue bond and billions of additional dollars from other local, state, and federal funds.

California has the nation’s largest homeless population and disproportionately so for many vulnerable groups including women with children, veterans, and the chronically homeless. AB 1618 is California’s opportunity to ensure that the most vulnerable among us receive the care and support they need. Signed by Governor, Chapter 43.

AB 1884 – (Harper): Specialized License Plates: Mental Health Awareness

This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to sponsor a license plate program where revenue generated from the license plates will be placed in a Mental Health Awareness Fund in the State Treasury. The Fund will be used for mental health awareness and education.

1 in 4 Californians will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime. Because awareness is a key part of treating mental illness, this bill is intended to promote awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by investing funds from license plate revenue into mental health awareness.

AB 2017 – (McCarty): College Student Mental Health Trust (Co-Sponsor)

This bill would amend the Mental Health Services Act and create a College Mental Health Services Trust Account made to appropriate funds annually. This would support public community colleges, colleges, and universities in improving access to mental health services on campus, in the local community, and through their public or private health insurance.

The mental health needs of the college student population are largely unaddressed and unmet. When at any given moment a minimum of 750,000 Californian students are suffering from depression, anxiety, psychosis, or some other mental health condition, linkages to care and treatment must be made. This bill seeks to assist public colleges to better identify, support, and intervene with at-risk students and get them the care they need from the appropriate source.  We know access to these services contribute directly to increases in academic performance, graduation, social engagement and mental health well-being.

AB 2246 – (O’Donnell): Pupil Suicide Prevention Policies

This bill would require a local education agency that serves pupils in grades 7 to 12 to adopt a policy on pupil suicide prevention that specifically addresses the needs of high-risk groups.

With suicide being the second leading cause of death in people 10-24, and 62% of hospitalizations for self-inflicted injuries in California involve youth ages 16-20, schools need to take a proactive stance against youth suicide. With school personnel interacting with students on a daily basis, they are in  a prime position to recognize warning signs of suicide and make appropriate referrals for help. They can create a safe and supportive school climate with a focus on social-emotional learning; promoting school-based programs which foster connections to caring adults; and training school personnel to recognize warning signs and make appropriate referrals for suicide and self-injury. Signed by Governor, Chapter 642

AB 2262 – (Levine): Prisoners: Mental Health Treatment (C0-Sponsor)

This bill would authorizes a defendant who is eligible for public mental health services due to a serious mental illness to petition the court, after a conviction or the defendant’s plea but prior to sentencing, for a sentence that includes mental health treatment.

In California those who are mentally ill are more likely incarcerated in jails and prisons than in a psychiatric hospital. To keep communities safe and lower recidivism, this bill seeks to allow a defendant to get the treatment needed to stabilize their mental health.  Studies show sentences that include mental health treatment result in cost savings to the criminal justice and public health system.

AB 2279 – (Cooley): Mental Health Services Act Spending Reports

This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services, based on the Annual Mental Health Services Act and Expenditure Report, to compile information including the total amount of Mental Health Services Act revenue, a county- by-county comparison of fund expenditure plans and annual updates, and a county-by-county comparison of the purposes for which the funds were expended. This info will be sent to the MHSOAC to be displayed on a publicly accessible website.

This bill would allow for a complete state-wide and county-by-county financial picture of how MHSA revenue is being used and not used.  This information would make it easier for providers to identify best practices and for consumers to compare services to identify programs that best address their needs. This bill would create transparency to taxpayers, mental health advocates and consumers, and legislators alike.

AB 2743 – (Eggman): Psychiatric Bed Registry (Co-Sponsor)

Starting July 1, 2017, this bill would require the State Department of Social Services to administer an Internet Website-based electronic registry of available acute psychiatric beds in specified health facilities for temporary detention and treatment of individuals with specified criteria for temporary detention, such as a person being a danger to him or herself, or danger to others.

A web-based psychiatric bed registry would improve mental health service access by getting patients dealing with mental health crises to the appropriate professionals more quickly and streamlining communication and reduce patient waiting time.

SB 614 – (Leno): Medi-Cal: Mental Health Services Peer Certification  

This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to establish a statewide peer and family support specialist certification program. The bill would require the Department to collaborate with the Office of Statewide Health and Program Development and interested stakeholders to develop the certification program.

Peers most importantly represent the community and culture those suffering from mental illness to hone life functioning skills, alleviate depression and other symptoms, enhance clients’ advocacy and navigation abilities, reduce hospitalizations, and improve client satisfaction.With a certification process for citizens to be mental health support specialists, it is possible to provide guidance in a behavioral health care setting to promote mind-body recovery and resiliency.

SB 884 – (Beall) Pupil Mental Health Reporting Standards

Requires clear reporting by schools on mental health status of students and of service outcomes. Signed by Governor, Chapter 835.

SB 1113 – (Beall): Pupil Health: Mental Health

This bill would allow for partnerships between county mental health and local education agencies to provide on-campus support to identify students not in special education programs who the teacher believes may require mental health services, and with parental consent, provide mental health services to those students.

SB 1273 – (Moorlach): Crisis Stabilization Units: Funding

This bill would clarify terms of the Mental Health Services Act to allow counties to use Prop 63 funds to provide outpatient crisis stabilization services, including crisis intervention and stabilization for a person suffering acute symptoms of distress, crisis residential treatment, rehabilitative mental health services, and mobile crisis support teams on a voluntary basis.

Outpatient crisis intervention and stabilization services are necessary to support recovery of people with mental illness. This bill’s goal is to ensure that counties can provide individuals with the medically necessary mental health services, medications, and supportive services in a given treatment plan.

SB 1466 – (Mitchell): Early and Periodic Screening: Trauma Screening

This bill would require mental health screening services under the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Testing (EPSDT) Program to include screening for trauma. The screening will ensure that those who screen positive, receive mental health services.

This bill ensures that medical professionals conducting already mandated health screenings look for signs of trauma to ensure that children who have suffered trauma receive the care they need. The traumatic nature of child abuse and neglect and the secondary trauma of removal from one’s home  is a reality for youth in the foster care system. The bill also establishes that foster children have suffered trauma and should be assessed for appropriate EPSDT services.

A Project of the Tides Center