Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Prevention and Early Intervention Mental Health Programs Passes Assembly

August 29, 2018


Contact: Victor Ruiz-Cornejo, , 415.604.6817

Sacramento –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 1004, a bipartisan bill to expand effective prevention and early intervention programs for children, teenagers, young adults, and underserved individuals experiencing early signs of severe mental illness passed the California Assembly by a vote of 61-0. SB 1004 now heads to the Senate for its final vote.

SB 1004 requires a much more structured and strategic approach to prevention and early intervention mental health programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA),passed by California voters in 2004 through Proposition 63 to provide funding for community-based mental health services

The bill is sponsored by the Steinberg Institute, founded by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who authored Prop 63. Senator Wiener is joined on SB 1004 by joint author Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), principal co-author Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), and  co-authors Senator Anthony Portantino, Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), Kevin Kiley (R- Rocklin), Brian Maienschein (R- San Diego), Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), and Marie Waldron (R- Escondido).

MHSA funds have continued to grow, and are estimated to raise $2.2 billion in revenue for the 2018-19 fiscal year. About $500 million of these funds are set aside specifically for prevention and early intervention (PEI) programs, but there is a marked and inequitable disparity across the state as to how each county utilizes these funds.  Fewer than half of California’s counties follow evidence-based models of care to effectively intervene in serious mental illness in order to prevent it or address it in its early stages. Treating severe mental illness when it first manifests significantly increases the chances of curing or effectively managing it.

SB 1004 establishes a statewide strategy for spending these Prevention and Early Intervention dollars effectively, on services with measurable outcomes.  Studies show that 50 percent of all mental illness – for example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – first manifests by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. Clinical research also shows that if left untreated upon early manifestation, mental illness becomes more difficult to treat over time and increases the likelihood of suicide, forced hospitalization, and homelessness. In the United States alone, approximately 100,000 children and young adults experience their first symptom of a serious mental illness each year.

SB 1004 improves and standardizes best-practices for prevention and early intervention programs at the county level. Creating a more focused approach for requirements for county MHSA-funded prevention and early intervention services will lower the chances that a young person will experience a psychotic break and thus keep them on a path of life-long success.

“We must do more to intervene early when people manifest signs of mental illness,” said Senator Wiener. “When we act quickly and treat the first signs of mental illness, we help people get their lives back on track and avoid falling into severe mental illness – a lifetime problem that can result in chronic homelessness. “In particular, we must do more to help young people experiencing early signs of mental illness. Mental illness overwhelmingly manifests when people are young. We need to step up for our kids.”

“We’ve got $2.5 billion sitting in bank accounts not being used to help those with mental illness,” said Senator Moorloch. We’re suffering from analysis paralysis as we all try to figure out what’s an innovative plan, and where should this money be going. With so many needs, it is frustrating the residents of my county that significant funds sit idly doing virtually nothing. SB 1004 helps in breaking the log jam of moving the Mental Health Services Act forward.”

“For too long, California has lacked a clear, cohesive strategy for how to most effectively spend nearly $500 million a year in statewide funds for prevention and early intervention in serious mental illness,” said Mayor Steinberg. “SB 1004 provides that framework, which is critical to our efforts to break the cycle of homelessness and dysfunction that so often accompanies untreated mental illness. It helps ensure we can bring best practices to scale across the state, so families can access treatment at the earliest stages of mental illness, well before someone’s life is derailed.”

Under SB 1004, counties will need to spend a portion of their prevention and early intervention funds on at least one of the following proven programs:

  1. Early psychosis and mood disorder detection and intervention
  2. Youth outreach and engagement with a priority on partnerships with colleges
  3. Childhood trauma prevention and early intervention
  4. Culturally competent and linguistically appropriate prevention and early intervention
  5. Strategies targeting the mental health needs of older adults

2017 Report Mental Health Services Act Evaluation of Outcomes and Associated Costs for Early Psychosis Programs by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission

Full Text of SB 1004:


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