Behavioral health impacts us all. California needs to provide more access to care for those with mental health and substance use challenges. This is why my colleagues and I have continually pushed to increase the state’s medical reimbursement rates in an effort to increase access for all. It is also why as the former Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee I moved to decriminalize substance use charges and instead focus on creating avenues to reduce recidivism and support local rehabilitation programs. Our healthcare system as a whole is severely underfunded and unable to focus enough on prevention and early intervention. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to help solve these issues.
This change must begin in our policy making process as well as our rhetoric around behavioral health. Although California made some strides when we passed Proposition 63, the California Mental Health Services Act in 2004, the cuts that behavioral health services experienced during the recession have never been reversed. Locally I have pushed to support local behavioral health providers especially in school settings. As former chair, and current member of, the Assembly Committee on Public Safety I have supported bills to increase training for peace officers and firefighters to recognize the signs of mental illness in order to help them respond accordingly. This year we passed a budget to provide mental health services to the homeless, children and help with criminal justice diversion.
Yes, behavioral health is a lens we need to use to look at health policy across the board from k-12 education to public safety. We need to better understand how conversations about behavioral health can help us better craft policy solutions.