Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Now in our fifth year of operation, the Steinberg Institute is capitalizing on the political momentum created by a new governor who has prioritized mental health policy by pursuing an ambitious legislative agenda of more than a dozen bills. Check them out here.
We seek again to have an outsized impact on California’s policy agenda with legislation that would end the discrimination and roadblocks too frequently faced by people seeking care, put an end to turf wars that keep qualified professionals from helping patients in need of treatment, enable communities to quickly build badly needed supportive housing, find out how many people with mental illness are living in board-and-care homes, and fund early psychosis intervention and serious mood disorder services.
In the “we don’t give up easy department,” this year we are sponsoring two pieces of legislation that were vetoed by the previous governor, despite getting bipartisan support in the Legislature. One bill would enable certification of peer support providers, the other would enable clinics to bill for mental health visits on the same day as other types of medical appointments. We also are backing legislation advancing causes embodied in bills held last year earlier in the process for various reasons, including one to make more public mental health psychiatrists eligible for loan repayment funding, one to increase availability of counseling for college students, and another to increase the focus on mental health in disaster planning.
This packed agenda follows a year that saw numerous successes in the quest for sound mental health policy. Read about 2018’s legislative package here. One of the most important victories was the signing of SB 1004, which marked an important 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. It establishes a statewide strategy for spending and requires counties to get timely guidance and technical assistance from the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
In addition, 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 the 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.