Behavioral health matters for the same reason that our physical health matters. Without regular awareness, our lives are put at risk. Every day we see the implications of behavioral health in our lives. It affects our mental health, spiritual health, marriages, family & friend relationships, and our future generations. Behavioral health matters because it provides important explanations for many policy issues affecting my community, state, and country such as gun violence, drug addiction, and abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and many other areas that affect the safety of millions of people. As a deputy district attorney and violent crimes prosecutor, I have seen the effects of behavioral health, or lack thereof, every day in my career. It is important that we devote our time and resources to improving behavioral health in our communities.
I believe the first, and most important, step for California is to support and increase education on mental and behavioral health programs/treatment to our communities. Many Californians, including those in my district, struggle with mental health and substance abuse, but are not aware of the resources available to them to seek care. Supporting open dialogues on mental health will help break the common stigmas surrounding the topic. We must treat mental health and substance abuse as seriously as we would any physical illness. From a federal perspective, if elected to Congress, I will support legislation that provides more access and coverage to mental health services for California communities.
If we talk about behavioral health conditions in an open and honest way, taking care to be inclusive of everyone’s struggle with behavioral health, then it opens the path for destigmatizing behavioral health conditions. Too often, behavioral health conditions are either immediately dismissed or regarded as normally habitual by family, friends, and our community. This issue cannot continue to be swept under the rug. We need to start listening to those who struggle with behavioral health, engage in an open conversation surrounding the issue, and invest time into researching solutions. Lastly, California needs to support behavioral health experts and professionals and their work in the behavioral health field.
Absolutely. My wife, Heather Walker Janz, is a licensed marriage and family therapist. As a professional in her field, she has held a large influence over me on this issue. Through my career as a prosecutor, I have seen families, children, women, and my community, struggle with behavioral health. This issue is one that puts thousands of lives at risk every day. It is my priority to embrace behavioral health as an important public policy issue in Congress.