We have a new Behavioral Health Champion this week: Former Asm. Marc Levine. We talked to him about all things behavioral health, including his suicide prevention bills and his personal connection to the issue.
- Remind me: BHA launched its Behavioral Health Champion interview series last year. See all the interviews here.
His connection to suicide: “On the suicide issue I did have a friend who had their lives touched by this and brought the issue to me. And as I worked on the suicide prevention legislation, that kind of just blossomed into more work that needed to be done in this area.”
“I’ve dedicated a great deal of my legislative time to making sure that people have the care that they need, that laws work so that people can also access their care rather than, for example, be incarcerated or of course suicide, which is a huge problem. Making sure that they get the care that they need from mental health practitioners that have the training that they need as well.”
- Background: Asm. Levine’s AB 1436, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018, requires mental health professionals to receive suicide prevention training.
Policy as a destigmatizing force: “And so when I’m doing these bills, people will come to me and they’ll tell me about their stories, about how they’ve been personally affected, stories that no one had ever shared with me before. But because of the work that I’m doing, they feel comfortable coming forward and talking to me about how they were personally affected by this.”
On Governor Gavin Newsom talking openly about behavioral health: “It’s a sea change. So it’s a personal issue when people come forward, to have Governor Newsom as a champion to elevate the discussion on where mental health fits into the conversation about health care, how people get the health care insurance they need to access mental health care.”
Addressing parity between physical and mental health: “They are treated differently and then the resources that we put forward for the different care and treatment people need is also inadequate when you look at the needs that people have. And so when we look at, whether it’s our prison system or our school system, that there are people with trauma in their lives that are not getting the care that they need.”