Bipartisan coalition unveils 2015-16 mental health bill package

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Maggie Merritt at 916-553-4167.

Senate, Assembly and Steinberg Institute unveil 2015-16 package of mental health bills.

SACRAMENTO, CA – A bipartisan group of legislators, led by Senate Mental Health Caucus Chair Jim Beall and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Mental & Behavioral Health, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, announced today a package of legislation moving forward this year dedicated to improving the lives of Californians suffering from mental illness.

“Behavioral and mental health must be a higher and more visible priority in the state Capitol,” said Senator Jim Beall, Chair of the Senate Mental Health Caucus. “It’s time for all of us – the legislature, Governor, courts, media – to make it our goal to end the stigma and remove the barriers to getting help.”

From the Assembly side, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas spoke on behalf of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Behavioral & Mental Health. “We can never fully address issues like education, criminal justice, healthcare and the plight of veterans until we equally prioritize behavioral health,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Today we send a message to our veterans, children and everyone suffering from mental health or substance abuse conditions, we can and will do more for you.”

Joining the legislators today was former Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, author of Prop 63 (Mental Health Services Act) and founder of the Steinberg Institute whose mission is to advance behavioral health policy at the state level and inspire more state leaders to prioritize the issue.

“When I left the legislature, I asked all new and returning members to consider carrying a bill on mental and behavioral health,” Steinberg said. “I am gratified that more Republicans and Democrats alike are joining Senator Beall and Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas to bring this issue to the forefront of policy making.”

The Steinberg Institute, which is focused this year on four areas of legislation (veterans, criminal justice, healthcare, education/children, and homelessness) highlighted the following bills it is supporting:

  • AB 1006 by Assemblymember Marc Levine, which would require judges to consider the effects of a diagnosable mental illness on the actions of a non-serious, non-violent offender prior to sentencing, and give judges the ability to order treatment as part of any sentencing.
  • AB 1299 by Sebastian Ridley Thomas, which would ensure that foster children placed with a family in different county are provided all of the mental healthcare services they are entitled to by the new county.
  • SBs 11 and 29 by Senator Jim Beall, which provides for peace officer training on dealing with mentally ill offenders in the field.
  • AB 388 by Republican Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang, which would require reporting of evidence-based outcomes on state programs designed to provide services for homeless veterans.

“Each year, the Institute will work with the Republican and Democratic leaders on mental health to update and strengthen the legislative agenda,” Steinberg said. “We all agree that we will reach the day soon when all Californians suffering from behavioral and mental health problems will have immediate access to evaluation, treatment and support services.”

For more visit the Steinberg Institute at

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