This week’s #BehavioralHealthChampion: California Treasurer Fiona Ma. In her role as Treasurer, she’s keenly aware of the financing complexities that can make it difficult to address issues like behavioral health.
“We’re lucky right now because we do have some money that we have saved up for a rainy day, but I think there’s also a renewed focus on mental health services, free preschool for every four year old, making sure that we reduce child poverty… I think this Governor, Gavin Newsom, is really thinking on a more holistic way about the person from birth to being a senior versus just trying to attack the problems with band-aid solutions.”
Her behavioral health story: “My mother pretty much suffered from mental illness since as long as I can remember. Back then when she was working, she was able to hide the signs a little more. But, as soon as she came home, she would go to sleep, wouldn’t wake up. Sometimes she could spend the whole weekend sleeping… So, me and my family, we have learned a lot just caring for her and trying to understand what it’s like to have and suffer from mental illness.”
Breaking the stigma: “Growing up in an Asian family, we don’t like to talk about what’s happening in the home, right? Because, our whole culture depends on saving face. And, so nobody wants to talk about it. But, as I have been in public service, gotten elected, I am very, very public about talking about problems. And, after we do in public, so many people come and they thanked me for talking about it.”