Last month, Tom Insel, MD, Gov. Newsom’s new special advisor on mental health care, shared with the Behavioral Health Action coalition some early ideas to change the trajectory of behavioral health care delivery in California. That Dr. Insel recognized coalition members as important to the process of transforming behavioral health is testament to the group’s hard and excellent work over the past year.
CHA co-founded Behavioral Health Action in 2018 with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, California, as an alliance of more than 50 organizations from health care, education, labor, law enforcement, local government, and business. Our first-of-its-kind coalition is focused on eliminating stigma and engaging lawmakers to develop solutions to the behavioral health challenges that so many Californians experience — for example:
- More than 6 million Californians suffer from a mental illness.
- Only one in three gets the help they need.
- The number of adolescents suffering from depressive illnesses statewide continues to outpace the national rate.
- Half of us will care for someone living with a mental health issue at some point in our lives.
The statistics are daunting, so the coalition hit the ground running last year with its mission to elevate the prominence of behavioral health so it gets the attention it needs, educate decision makers, and innovate the way we treat and support Californians in need — which includes getting the right care, in the right setting, at the right time.
In October, we held a one-on-one conversation with then-candidate Newsom, who pledged his commitment to turn California into a leader in improving the lives of people experiencing behavioral health challenges. When Dr. Insel spoke to the coalition last month, he continued to advance that conversation, explaining his view that we need both a shared understanding of the current problems and shared goals for tackling them.
Behavioral Health Action is working on just such a shared vision — an updated statewide model for behavioral health that will serve as a roadmap for the administration to use. As the model progresses, we’ll keep you updated.
In the meantime, we continue our work on many fronts: educating lawmakers about the importance of change, advocating for a budget that ensures everyone can get care when they need it, and strengthening our ties with the administration through a common sense of purpose.