Steinberg Institute

Issue Spotlight

Mental Health Bills On the Move in California

Our government team is pressing forward with a package of sponsored bills that so far has garnered strong support from legislators on both sides of the aisle. It’s a bold agenda that advances some key themes: scaling up best practices for prevention and early intervention in mental illness; marshaling far more resources to combat the state’s crisis of homelessness; continuing the push toward a system of care in which mental health is treated with the same sweep and urgency as physical health; and growing our mental health workforce.

Among the initiatives we’re pushing is legislation that would make California the first state in the nation to establish voluntary workplace mental health standards for employers. One in four Californians experience a mental illness in any given year, and yet mental health remains an uncomfortable topic in the workplace. The result: Employees don’t always seek the care and support they need; and employers sustain substantial economic losses because of absenteeism and turnover.

For years, employers have seen the wisdom of providing their employees with gym memberships, exercise space and nutritional snacks, having been educated in the cost benefits of a healthy workforce. SB 1113 by Senator Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would bring the same level of attention to supporting employee mental health. Specifically, it would authorize the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to work with private and public employers, employee groups, consumers and mental health experts to create voluntary guidelines to combat stigma and normalize discussion of mental health in the workplace. We are grateful to Senator Monning and John Boyd, chair of the MHSOAC, for their leadership on this exciting new frontier.

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WE RELY ON YOUR SUPPORT

We believe that access to quality mental health care is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time. The Steinberg Institute is committed to bringing together leaders in government, medicine, research, business and technology to advance the diagnosis and treatment of brain illness, and to usher in a system of care in which brain health is treated with the same sweep and urgency as physical health.

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