How AB 1315 Addresses an Unmet Need
Why AB 1315? Because this legislation marks a necessary and decisive step toward shifting the paradigm of mental health delivery in California. It comes with a written pledge from private industry to raise funds for the public/private partnership the bill creates, and has the support of more than two dozen organizations that are leaders in the field, as well as influential players in the technology and research communities.
What does it do? The bill, authored by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, would generate new private sector contributions to expand services for early detection and intervention in mental illness. The account created with these funds, known as EPI-Plus, would increase funding available to counties for creation and expansion of evidence-based programs that have proven successful at stemming psychosis-related disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression before they become disabling.
Why is that needed? The research is clear that early intervention in serious mental illness with intensive, comprehensive services can arrest the disease before it becomes disabling. Model programs in operation in California, New York, Oregon and multiple other states and nations have shown dramatic benefits when young people receive treatment in the early stages of illness, often resulting in rapid remission of symptoms. But fewer than half of California counties offer such services because of limitations in funding and training capacity. And the 24 counties that do offer such services can’t support programs large enough to meet local demand.
Can’t we meet this need with MHSA dollars? No. By statute, the bulk of MHSA funding – 80 percent — goes toward care for people whose mental illness is already full-blown, often leaving them homeless, incarcerated, or hospitalized. Rather than redirecting existing resources, AB 1315 (Mullin) adds new money to the equation, largely drawn from the private sector, to expand statewide capacity for prevention and early intervention.
Does this duplicate existing state and county efforts? No. It expands those efforts. Nor does it require counties to redirect funds from other priorities. Counties would have the opportunity to apply for a grant that doubles their investment in prevention and early intervention. We’ve amended the bill to clarify that it in no way requires redirection of existing federal grants.
How will this shift the paradigm of care? Counties currently straddle a difficult chasm: The need for crisis services for people suffering from mental illness is great and undeniable. But we’ll never get ahead of the problem unless we move our treatment model from Stage 4 crisis care to early prevention and intervention. This bill provides incentive for California to move toward a collaborative, statewide strategy that emphasizes early intervention and incorporates counties large and small. In addition, it creates an historic opportunity for the private sector to join forces with the state and counties in the battle to transform the mental health treatment model, ensuring diseases of the brain are treated with the same urgency and sweep as diseases of the body.
— Compiled by the Steinberg Institute
For more information: Contact Executive Director Maggie Merritt, (916) 553-4167/