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Behavioral Health Champion: Former Asm. Kansen Chu

As part of our ongoing #BehavioralHealthChampion interview series, we recently sat down with former Assemblymember Kansen Chu. Born in Taiwan, Asm. Chu moved to the United States in 1976 and mental health was a key part of his path to becoming an elected official.

Chu and Beall: “So getting involved, to me it’s just set a standard for my children and I started [to get] involved with a lot of our nonprofit organizations and I became appointed to the mental health board by then-supervisor, Jim Beall.”

On behavioral health parity: “I think the physical health and the mental health… really just should be health of a human being… [Mental health] is being treated differently and [the] funding source is also lower for the mental health [than] the physical health. That’s one of the [problems] I’m trying to get more attention [on] in the legislature.”

Moving California forward: “We’re definitely trying to move the needles a little bit, but again, because of the [way] people look at mental health because [it doesn’t] present an immediate threat [to life], it kind of [gets] pushed aside a little bit. So this is through education. We need to educate the people, educate the legislature. Mental health [kills] people if we [don’t] go and treat it and I think it’s a message [we’re] trying to deliver to the legislature as well as to the public. Don’t overlook the impact of mental health to our society.” 

  • One way to do that: “Just like physical health, prevention and early intervention is the most effective, most cost-effective way. From the economic point of view, definitely. You know, we know that emergency room services is the most expensive [form] of healthcare. Same thing with mental health, prevention and early intervention, I think is the key.” 
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