As we gear up for Mental Health Matters Day tomorrow, we want to highlight our Children's Mental Health Spring Advocacy Day that took place earlier this month.
On May 1, 2018, NAMI California joined the California Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry for our 9th annual collaboration. Collectively we met with 50 Senate and Assembly offices in Sacramento and were able to hear from Senator Beall (Chair, Mental Health Caucus) and Assembly Member Wood (Chair, Asm Health Committee). Both representatives talked about the importance of school based mental health services. The groups consisted of family members (NAMI) and providers (CALACAP). The unique perspectives from both family members and providers have been powerful in working to influence policy.
Our focus for the day was children’s mental health, including school based services and proposals that address and support students' mental health. SB 968 (Pan) will require the California State Universities and the California Community Colleges to hire one full time equivalent licensed mental health counselor per 1,000 students.
The group also advocated for Senate Bill 1125 (Atkins) to improve access to mental health care in impoverished communities. Multiple studies have demonstrated the value of integrated health care, particularly when it comes to mental health. SB 1125 will require the state to allow Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Centers to bill Medi-Cal for two visits if a patient is provided mental health services on the same day they receive other medical services. Currently within California, FQHCs and RHCs can bill for two separate Medi-Cal visits in the same day if it is a dental provider.
Other issues discussed with the legislators include homeless individuals with mental illness and the high population of individuals with mental illness in juvenile halls and jails.
These issues continue to reach across party lines, as we spoke with both Democrat and Republican legislators. For a full bill list, including the bills we advocated for at this event, click here.