Steinberg Institute salutes Governor Newsom’s unprecedented investment in youth behavioral health needs as part of California Comeback Plan

SACRAMENTO – Today’s announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom will ensure the behavioral health needs of California’s youth don’t go unmet.

Millions of people across the state experienced enormous stress and dislocation, as well as physical and psychological suffering, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While students across California are starting to go back to school, the pandemic is not over. It has disproportionately impacted communities of color and our kids, and that the pain it is causing may be with us for years to come.

“People decry our mental system because too often, Californians only get help when they have suffered a terrible life consequence,” said Steinberg Institute founder Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “The Governor’s bold and unprecedented $4 billion investment in children’s mental health shows that California can fix what’s broken and once again lead the way. The transformative new direction for mental health is to start investing more mental health resources for schools than for prisons and emergency rooms. Thank you, Governor Newsom and Secretary Ghaly for starting a movement to end so much needless suffering.”

The Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is part of the $100 billion California Comeback Plan submitted by Governor Newsom to the legislature today. $4 billion would be committed to efforts intended to address mental health needs of Californians under 25 years old. Included in the proposal is a virtual platform to connect students to behavioral health care along with grants for school mental health services.

This plan focuses on prevention, increasing the number of behavioral health professionals, access to care, and providing more crisis services, and adding acute care services and beds. A key aspect of the initiative expands youth behavioral health care facilities, which have been neglected for decades. These facilities are critical for supporting youth in their wellness journeys.

“The Steinberg Institute is proud to work with Governor Gavin Newsom on the development of this critical initiative,” said Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute. “Our mission is to upend the status quo and improve mental health care for Californians of all ages; and this budget is a significant step in that direction.”

“It’s clear that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on youth across California,” said Steinberg Institute board chair Dr. Thomas Insel. “This plan works to minimize the lasting impacts of the current crisis and lays the foundation for a comprehensive approach to behavioral health in our schools.”

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