The Steinberg Institute in 2018 was successful on numerous fronts in getting bipartisan support for legislation to advance sound mental health policy, in particular by increasing emphasis on prevention and early intervention while promoting better coordination of services provided to people with mental illness. One of the most important victories was the signing of SB 1004, which was sponsored by the Steinberg Institute and authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Sen. John Moorlach, (R-Costa Mesa) and co-authored by a diverse array of legislators. Signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September, it marked a major step in our efforts to standardize and scale up high-quality Prevention and Early Intervention programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act in order ensure access to quality care across the state. SB 1004 establishes a statewide strategy for PEI spending so that counties across California are targeting their funds on areas of proven need and employing best practices in their treatment models across various age groups. In addition, it requires that counties get timely guidance and technical assistance from the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
On other fronts, the Steinberg Institute successfully sponsored or co-sponsored bills to set voluntary workplace mental health standards, require mental health screenings for women getting prenatal or postpartum care, ensure that counties provide eligible veterans with behavioral health services, require public schools families be notified of how to access youth mental health, and that hospitals develop discharge plans for homeless patients. We also pushed several successful bills relating to suicide prevention, in particular by requiring that licensed therapists to get suicide prevention training, that school boards update suicide prevention policies for middle and high school students ever five years, and that the state’s prison system annually report on its suicide prevention efforts.
Finally, the Steinberg Institute was gratified that voters in November overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, the measure it sponsored and which the state Legislature placed on the ballot to authorize use of existing state mental health funds to pay for $2 billion in bonds for supportive housing linked to treatment for people with serious mental illness who are homeless or at grave risk of becoming homeless. The initiative was based on the No Place Like Home Act of 2016, which the Steinberg Institute wrote and which was signed by the governor only to be stymied in legal disputes. Proposition 2 got more “yes” votes than any other proposition on the November ballot and counties have started submitting applications for housing projects.
Our Priority Legislation for 2018
SB 1004 (Wiener)
SB 1004 requires California to develop a statewide strategic vision for prevention and early intervention in mental illness, with the aim of standardizing and scaling up best practices. This bill was signed.
SB 1113 (Monning)
SB 1113 authorizes the state to develop and promote the first-ever voluntary standards for workplace mental health. This bill was signed.
SB 906 (Beall)
SB 906 would have established peer certification in California. This bill was vetoed.
AB 2018 (Maienschein)
AB 2018 would have amended the state’s Steven M. Thompson program to expand the pool of psychiatrists eligible for loan repayment in county mental health programs. The bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 1971 (Santiago)
AB 1971 would have expanded the definition of “gravely disabled” to allow authorities to compel treatment for people whose mental illness impedes their ability to seek urgently needed medical treatment. The bill was placed in the inactive file at the request of the author.
AB 1436 (Levine)
AB 1436 requires applicants for licensure in the fields of marriage and family therapist, educational psychologist, clinical social worker and professional clinical counselor to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework in suicide risk assessment and intervention. This bill was signed.
SB 1125 (Atkins)
SB 1125 would have removed state regulatory barriers that bar medical clinics from billing for physical and mental health services provided to Medi-Cal patients on the same day. This bill was vetoed.
AB 2333 (Wood)
AB 2333 would have established a mental health Deputy Director within the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 2193 (Maienschein)
AB 2193 requires providers treating women for prenatal or postpartum care to screen for maternal mental health conditions. This bill was signed.
AB 2325 (Irwin)
AB 2325 prevents a county from denying an eligible veteran mental or behavioral health services while the veteran is waiting for a determination of eligibility for services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill was signed.
AB 2022 (Chu)
AB 2022 requires public schools to notify students, parents and guardians no less than twice during the school year how to initiate access to youth mental health services on campus or in the community. This bill was signed.
SB 968 (Pan)
SB 968 would have established minimum ratios for mental health counselors at California colleges. This bill was vetoed.
AB 2043 (Arambula)
AB 2043 would have required the state to establish a crisis hotline for current and former foster youth and their caregivers. This bill was vetoed.
AB 2639 (Berman)
AB 2639 requires the governing board for schools that serve students in grades 7-12 to review and update policies on suicide prevention at least every five years. This bill was signed.
SB 960 (Leyva)
SB 960 requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to submit a report to the Legislature on or before October 1 of each year, to include, among other things, descriptions of progress toward meeting goals related to suicide risk evaluations and progress in implementing initiatives designed to reduce risk factors associated with suicide. This bill was signed.
SB 1152 (Hernandez)
SB 1152 requires hospitals to develop discharge plans for homeless patients. This bill was signed into law.