Prevention and early intervention critical as California faces behavioral health ‘tsunami’ due to COVID-19
[Recording of press conference above.]
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Behavioral Health Action (BHA), a coalition of more than 50 statewide organizations with behavioral health expertise in California, today announced the release of its historic Blueprint for Behavioral Health. The report details a new vision for policymakers at a time when more Californians are experiencing behavioral health challenges due to the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“There has never been a more important time for California to come together to help people improve their behavioral health,” said Carmela Coyle, BHA Co-Chair and California Hospital Association President and CEO. “The BHA Blueprint provides a framework for policymakers to prioritize prevention and early intervention – what we call ‘flipping the triangle’ – to help people before they require significant treatment. We can make meaningful investments, meaningful contributions and a meaningful difference in communities across California if we come together – through collective action – around these ideas.”
Work on the BHA Blueprint was underway before the COVID-19 pandemic, and its release is now timelier and more important than ever. The pandemic severely intensified behavioral health challenges, creating new obstacles for those already in distress and spawning a new population of individuals in need. Studies show that COVID-19 disproportionately impacted low-income Californians and communities of color. The BHA Blueprint is a critical tool to help address and reverse this trend.
“Hope is on the horizon as Californians get vaccinated, but the pandemic will not be over until we address the behavioral health crisis,” said Jessica Cruz, BHA Co-Chair and NAMI California CEO. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our behavioral health system with the same sense of urgency used to discover the COVID-19 vaccine. The BHA Blueprint is a critical resource for leaders seeking solutions to address the unique behavioral health needs of all Californians.”
The BHA Blueprint transforms California’s behavioral health system to focus on prevention and early intervention – a concept the Coalition refers to as “flipping the triangle.” Instead of reactive and expensive alternatives including emergency department care and hospitalization, the BHA Blueprint prioritizes investments in prevention, early assessment, identification of needs and aggressive treatment.
“We’re asking all of our legislators: invest now in prevention and early detection, invest now in community-based resources so that we can help many more families and individuals who are in dire need,” Coyle said. “We must do everything we can to keep even more Californians from falling into crisis.”
The BHA Blueprint addresses decades-old systemic barriers that inhibit strong behavioral health care. It outlines measurable targets, aimed at helping communities improve, including at least a 10% per year improvement in several key performance indicators ranging from reducing disparities in service utilization to increasing the number of children receiving screenings.
About Behavioral Health Action:
Behavioral Health Action represents individuals and families, small businesses, labor, law enforcement, service and not-for-profit providers, county mental health departments and more. This first-of-its-kind, broad-based coalition of organizations represents California’s extensive and diverse system of care for behavioral health services.