Steinberg Institute

Issue Spotlight

Senate passes bill to make CA first state with voluntary workplace mental health standards

Landmark legislation that would make California the first state in the nation to establish voluntary mental health standards for the workplace was approved on the Senate floor Thursday by unanimous vote and moves to the Assembly with strong bipartisan backing. SB 1113, authored by Senator Bill Monning, D-Carmel, marks a bold effort to combat the stigma that still shrouds mental health in our nation and ensure mental illness is addressed with the same respect and urgency as physical illness in the workplace.

For years, employers have seen the wisdom of providing their employees with gym memberships, exercise space and nutritional snacks, having been schooled in the clear cost benefits of supporting physical well-being. SB 1113 would bring that same level of attention to supporting employee mental health.

In any given year, one in four Californians endures a mental health crisis, and yet mental health remains an uncomfortable and often unaddressed issue in many workplace settings. Research tells us that lack of attention comes at great cost for both employers and employees: Mental health issues are the single most expensive category of health costs for many employers, across all industries and sizes. The loss of employee productivity due to depression alone is estimated to cost U.S. companies as much as $44 billion per year.

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Video Feature

‘We Were in Desperate Need of State Support’

California has borne more than its share of disaster, from mass shootings to devastating wildfires and deadly mudslides. For survivors, these traumatic events can ravage mental health in ways that persist long after the disaster itself. AB 2333, by Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, would help establish a coordinated, statewide response to community mental health needs in the wake of disaster, similar to the state’s approach to basic needs like food and shelter. Above, Veronica Kelley, Director of the San Bernardino Co. Dept. of Behavioral Health, testifies about the emotional wounds that continue to torment her community more than two years after a terrorist attack killed 14 and wounded 22 others.

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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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