SACRAMENTO – Today, State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), the Big City Mayors coalition, the California State Association of Psychiatrists, and the Psychiatric Physicians’ Alliance of California announced the introduction of legislation to overhaul the state’s behavioral health care system.
The eight bill package is intended to improve the behavioral health system across the continuum; from prevention and early intervention, community supports and services, intersystem collaboration, improving access to assisted outpatient treatment, providing increased accountability through outcome tracking, preventing avoidable conservatorships, and improving the effectiveness of our conservatorship process for those that need them.
The introduction of the package follows a recent assessment by the California Department of Health Care Services, which found various shortcomings in the state’s behavioral health services, including that the rate of serious mental illness in California increased by more than fifty percent from 2008 to 2019. Eggman noted the problem has only become more dire as a result of the pandemic and that she and the mayors were motivated to take strong action as a result of the behavioral health crisis growing on our streets and our neighborhoods.
“We have to act and act now to make needed changes to our behavioral health care system. The crisis grows daily. California has made significant investments and more are coming to improve our behavioral health care system but we also must modernize the system to improve access and ensure people are getting the care they need”, said Senator Eggman.
Eggman, a clinical social worker, has worked in the past to expand the number of counties offering Assisted Outpatient Treatment and improve full-service partnerships, the wraparound programs that currently serve many Californians with the greatest needs. Past legislative efforts to reform LPS conservatorships have proven challenging, however, in the time since our crisis has only worsened.
In making the announcement Eggman was joined by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“Our behavioral health system in California is broken — and right now, we have far too many people cycling through life on the street, emergency rooms and jails without access to the mental health services they desperately need,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “Cities are on the front lines of this crisis, and we recognize that the time for action is now. I want to thank Senator Eggman for championing this package of legislative proposals, including reforming our conservatorship laws and I look forward to pushing for the passage of these bills with the Big City Mayor coalition this year.”
“San Francisco is a city that leads with compassion, but what is happening right now for far too many on our streets is not compassionate. And we are not alone,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Cities across California need more tools to address the crisis of mental illness and addiction we are seeing on our street every day. Senator Eggman's package of legislation is a critical step to reforming and modernizing our conservatorship laws to better serve those who are unable to help themselves.”
“We need to explore every avenue to address the State’s ongoing mental health crisis,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. “One is the legislative process. Sen. Eggman – who has extensive experience in the mental health field – has put forth a package that looks to improve the system. Mental health is a major driver of homelessness, but it can affect anyone. We owe it to this vulnerable population to do all we can to improve their lives.”
“Thanks to Senator Eggman for taking on the cause of our time, mental health. These bills will help improve our broken system and provide relief to many more people,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Everybody knows somebody who is struggling with a mental health issue. Too often, there’s nowhere for them to turn to get prompt, effective care.”
“As a three-time gubernatorial appointee to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and former Vice-Chair of the Board, I have first-hand experience in setting, communicating, and enforcing standards for safe and competent delivery of mental health services” said Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. “It is time for us to rethink and reform old policies that are not working in our state. This bill package offers a holistic approach to significantly reform our behavioral and mental health services, and creates a new paradigm which improves our ability to care for our most vulnerable population.”