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Behavioral Health Champion: Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva

Our #BehavioralHealthChampion interview series continues this week with Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva. We were happy to sit down with her and learn about her personal interest in behavioral health.

  • Her story is powerful: I lost a brother this last October – hasn’t even been a year yet – who struggled with alcoholism and was in and out of being homeless. And although in many ways I felt like we had some tools because of the work I had done, we realized that it is very, very difficult to work with somebody who’s struggling with addictions and other issues to just fix it. And many times I think what is recommended are short-term fixes.”
  • What happened when she told her story: “People of all backgrounds [were] texting me saying they have a family member who’s struggling and they’re struggling because they just don’t know what to do. And I think it’s really a very, very big issue, not only for the person suffering but also the family that is trying to really do what they can.”
  • On fragmentation of the behavioral health system: I really feel like it’s almost like an onion where you’re peeling and peeling and you keep finding other layers and other layers. And what I’d say is there’s a lot of great organizations doing good work, but they’re not talking to each other. And that is not unusual in major organizations, whether it be schools, teachers talk to teachers, principals talk to principals. But we have, I think, the means to help more people.”
  • Next steps: “But I think the biggest thing is people have to know what the other end is doing. So an example, like I said, is hospitals never really talked about working closely with police or with, if you want to say cities. And now that conversation is, I think, imperative as hospitals are dealing with people walking in that have severe mental health issues and they’re the ones having to first deal with that.”
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