Senate unanimously passes landmark measure to expand early intervention for mental illness

AB 1315 would create a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to expand evidence-based models for early detection, prevention and intervention of psychosis and serious mood disorders.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a landmark measure to advance and expand early intervention services for psychosis and serious mood disorders. The measure now stands just one short step from the Governor’s desk.

The bill, AB 1315 by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, would create a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership, harnessing the resources of California’s private sector to help shift the paradigm for mental health treatment from one centered on Stage 4 crisis care to one that prioritizes early intervention and management of serious illness.

The bill is the top priority for the Steinberg Institute, which is sponsoring the measure as part of its broader effort to ensure brain health is treated with the same urgency and sweep as physical health. The legislation has no opposition, and passed the Assembly last month with zero no votes. It has drawn support from an array of organizations in the public and private sectors committed to advancing the science surrounding the causes, diagnoses and treatment of mental illness.

Among the industry leaders and nonprofit organizations that have signed on in support: Verily Life Sciences; Mindstrong; One Mind Institute; The Jed Foundation; the California Hospital Association; the California Psychiatric Association; the California College of Emergency Room Physicians; Sutter Health; the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission; the California State Association of Counties; the Western Center on Law and Poverty; and the California Police Chiefs Association.

The intent of AB 1315 is to greatly expand resources for early detection of psychosis and other symptoms of mental illness in young people in California, and to respond with comprehensive services that have proven successful in arresting diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression before they become disabling.

AB 1315 would leverage existing mental health funding by setting up a public-private partnership that would generate additional funding for services dedicated to early detection and prevention of mental illness. Specifically, it would create a special account to be fully supported by private donations and federal, state and private grants. Counties that apply for and receive awards would have to provide matching funding.

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, rose to present the measure to the full Senate Wednesday, noting that model programs in operation in multiple states, including California, have shown dramatic benefits when young people receive treatment in the early stages of illness.

“We actually know how to do this – the research and treatment models are proven and they exist,” he said. “But not every county has adopted these strategies, and not enough of our young people have access to programs.”

Sen. Ted Gaines, a Roseville Republican, also rose to speak in support of the legislation, saying “we need to be doing everything we can” to detect early signs of psychosis and intervene with appropriate care.

The measure now returns to the Assembly for concurrence, leaving it just one step from Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

For more information, contact Steinberg Institute Government Affairs Director Adrienne Shilton, (916) 553-4167.

The Steinberg Institute is a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sound public policy and inspiring leadership on issues of mental health.


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