Behavioral health impacts many people across the board, regardless of age, race, religion, political beliefs or socio-economic background. Mental health challenges, as well as substance use challenges, affect one in four adults, and touches just about every family in America. It is a huge and growing problem, and over half of adults with mental illness have no access to treatment. In our district 48, we have a real and growing problem of homelessness fueled in part by fraudulent sober living homes, a long-overlooked opioid crisis, and mental health issues going unaddressed. When I am in Congress, I will make sure that we obtain our fair share of behavioral health funding, and work with our cities to make sure these issues are being properly addressed.
We need to make sure that everyone has access to affordable health care, which always includes mental health and substance use prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support. In addition to health care, California should provide social services and education for patients and family members struggling with behavioral health challenges, and law enforcement and criminal justice systems modified to recognize that mental health and substance abuse are diseases, not crimes, and should be treated as such.
California always leads the way, so this should be no different! We need to reframe the narrative around mental health with more compassion for those suffering from mental health. For too long, our country has ignored and stigmatized mental health and behavioral health issues, but this needs to end.
Yes, when in Congress, I will commit to making behavioral health a priority, because if left ignored, it will trickle down even further and negatively impact into all aspects of society – homelessness, crime, income inequality. Prevention is always the best solution, whether physical or mental health, and in the end, any money spent on behavioral health will save money in the long run.