Posted on Monday, September 10, 2018
By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board
Sep. 10, 2018 | 4:05 AM
Like much of the rest of the nation, California went only halfway toward keeping its promise to improve mental health care. It closed psychiatric hospitals, some of which were really just costly warehouses for the sick rather than modern medical facilities offering effective treatment. But the state didn’t follow through on its commitment to provide better alternatives, like community-based clinics that deliver the treatment and services needed to integrate patients into society, working and living independently where possible.
We can see the result of those half-measures every day. About a third of homeless people in Los Angeles and across the country are on the street because of untreated mental illnesses that prevent them from staying housed or holding down a job.
We’ve begun to make amends, at least of a sort. Fourteen years ago, voters passed Proposition 63, known informally as the millionaires’ tax and more properly as the Mental Health Services Act. It raises billions of dollars for services.
More recently, Los Angeles voters adopted tax measures to raise money for supportive housing — units that will give homeless people, including those with serious mental health challenges, the opportunity for dignified and independent living while receiving the medical care and services they need to hold their illnesses at bay and stay off the streets.
These are fine programs, but if they’re all we’ve got they will be futile. The ranks of mentally ill homeless Californians are constantly being replenished. As fast as we can lead the sick and suffering into homes, they are replaced on the street by new generations of people whose mental illnesses were left undiagnosed or untreated at an early stage, when they still could have been held in check. If only California also had funding for that — for prevention, diagnosis, intervention and treatment early enough that patients’ illnesses do not progress to the point where they lose the ability to lead independent lives.
Actually, we do have the funding. The tragedy is that we haven’t spent it wisely, or in many cases haven’t spent it at all.
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2018
August 29, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Victor Ruiz-Cornejo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2018
By Jocelyn Wiener
For years, Diane Shinstock watched her adult son deteriorate on the streets. Suffering from severe schizophrenia, he slept under stairwells and bushes, screamed at passersby and was arrested for throwing rocks at cars.
Sometimes he refused the housing options he was offered. Sometimes he got kicked out of places for bad behavior. Shinstock, who lives in Roseville and works on disability issues for the state of California, begged mental health officials to place him under conservatorship—essentially, depriving him of his personal liberty because he was so sick that he couldn’t provide for his most basic personal needs of food, clothing and shelter.
But county officials told her, she said, that under state law, her son could not be conserved; because he chose to live on the streets, he did not fit the criteria for “gravely disabled.”
“I was devastated,” she said. “I cried for days.”
So Shinstock—along with her husband Joe, a policy consultant who works for Republican leadership in the Assembly—set out to change state law. Their uphill battle illustrates the complex philosophical, legal and ethical questions that surround conservatorship in California.
What responsibility does government have to protect people with serious mental illnesses who refuse treatment? How should it balance the right to liberty with the need for care?
Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
As you may already know, the “No Place Like Home” initiative will go before voters on the November ballot as Proposition 2. It’s an exciting — and welcome — moment that could jump-start billions of dollars in much-needed funding to provide supportive housing linked to services and treatment for people with serious mental illness who are chronically homeless or at grave risk of becoming homeless.
The legislation, originally signed into law in 2016 with bipartisan support, has been caught up in legal action. A “yes” vote in November will validate that the act furthers the intent of the Mental Health Services Act by providing a safe and stable living environment linked to intensive services for California’s most vulnerable residents.
Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
By Heather Knight
San Francisco Chronicle
Aug. 7, 2018
The severely mentally ill people we see on the sidewalks of San Francisco every day have one thing in common: The system failed them in disastrous fashion.
Chances are they have something else in common, too: mental illness stemming back to their childhood or young adulthood that was never properly treated. Clinical research shows 50 percent of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent begins by age 24.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has a proposal to catch these cases far earlier, before people suffering with untreated schizophrenia and bipolar disorder wind up living on our sidewalks and under our freeway overpasses.
Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
By Darrell Steinberg and Scott Wiener
Special to The Sacramento Bee
August 02, 2018
In coming weeks, the Legislature will have the opportunity to pass a measure that would change the lives of thousands of Californians at risk of serious mental illness, increase access to quality mental health treatment, and ultimately turn the tide in our homelessness crisis.
But it means being more strategic and accountable in how we deliver mental health services in California. And that makes it controversial. It’s a gut-check moment. And we’re calling on state leaders to rise to the occasion.
The issue at hand is the state Mental Health Services Act. That’s the millionaire’s tax passed in 2004 that generates $2.2 billion a year for mental health care. Without question, the act has been a game-changer, providing a lifeline for tens of thousands of people whose lives have been derailed by serious mental illness.
But should it – and could it – be making an even bigger difference? We say yes.
Posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The Steinberg Institute is accepting applications for the position of office manager. We’re looking for a highly motivated, collaborative, solutions-oriented self-starter who has a passion for details. The successful candidate will possess superior judgment, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and will enjoy managing multiple projects simultaneously.
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2018
The United States is suffering a critical shortage of licensed mental health professionals — and California is no exception. A study released in February by the Healthforce Center at UC San Francisco projects that California will have a severe shortage of psychiatrists by 2028. As it is, 23 of California’s 58 counties have fewer than one psychiatrist per 10,000 residents. Six counties have no psychiatrist at all.
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2018
Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing hundreds of millions in new spending on services for mental health in his newly released “May Revise” budget, a welcome infusion of resources that would […]
Posted on Friday, April 27, 2018
By Felicia Mello/CALmatters
When student leaders from 23 California State University campuses came together last fall to set priorities for the academic year, improving campus mental health services received more nominations than any other issue. It beat out even that perennial concern, tuition costs.
Cal State Student Association president Maggie White said she’s not surprised.
“We’re seeing wait times at counseling centers that are exceeding two or three weeks, people turned away after a few appointments because they’ve exceeded the maximum allotment, and students not feeling comfortable going to counselors because no one looks like them or reflects their experience,” White said.
As the stigma attached to mental health care fades, California students are increasingly clamoring for more on-campus services that can help them cope with anxiety, depression and the stresses of a contentious political climate and rising living expenses. Several bills pending in the California Legislature would set aside resources for mental health care at the state’s public colleges and universities.
Mental health advocates say on-campus care is especially important because people often first experience psychological problems during their young adult years.
“It’s so much the age when serious mental illness manifests itself, and here we have these institutions that could absolutely be identifying this early on,” said Deborah Anderluh, a spokesperson for the Steinberg Institute, which lobbies for more funding for mental health treatment.