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Behavioral Health Champion: Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron

Our #BehavioralHealthChampion interview series continues with Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron. Asm. Waldron echoed the sentiments we heard from Sen. Pat Bates — also a Republican — that behavioral health is a bipartisan issue in California.

“I’ve been seven years in the legislature and we’re still talking about the same things and the access to care and lack of providers and the training and the certifications for new workforce for mental health. It’s ongoing and at some point we have to make the tough decisions and get working on it.

How BHA can help: “The dialogue is important. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a bipartisan issue, so it gets a lot of … the Assembly members and the Senators talking about it, meeting with groups. It’s always helpful [when] your coalitions speak with us and educate us because, as legislators, we’re by no means experts. We’re not out there in the field on a day-to-day basis dealing with the issues and with the patients. One of the big things that would help us is, how do we overcome some of the barriers?”

Making treatment a priority: “Looking at how do we encourage folks with mental illness to actually go into treatment without forcing them in, at the point where they’re a danger to themselves and others. So, it’s that conversation that we don’t have enough of. People can point fingers, “Oh they’re homeless. They’re mentally ill.” But what about their human dignity? People who knew them before would realize that’s not them. If there’s a way to get them into treatment, they become the person they were meant to be.”

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