Three Mental Health Bills for California Children

Mental Health Awareness month is a time to note that the emotional health of children is an integral part of overall health, as physical and mental health are intricately linked. Mental disorders affect as many as 1 in 5 U.S. children each year and are some of the most costly conditions to treat – mental health problems among young people under age 24 cost the U.S. an estimated $247 billion annually. Unfortunately, the majority of young people who need mental health treatment do not receive it, and mental health problems in childhood often have negative effects in adulthood.

The California Legislature has proposed several bills that address children’s mental health, from increased training and peer supports to early prevention and funding parity. Three current bills worth noting:

SB 906: Medi-Cal: mental health services: peer support specialist certification
This bill establishes a statewide peer support specialist certification program for health providers. The peer support specialist would have the experience and the formal training to promote mind-body recovery for adults or transition-age youth.

SB 1019: Youth mental health and substance use disorder services
This bill creates financial parity for children’s mental health and adult mental health funding. It requires at least half of all funds allocated to the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission under the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 be used to expand mental health services for minors.

AB 2686: Early identification of pupil mental health issues: in-service training for certificated employees and classified staff
This bill requires each school district, county office of education, and charter school to provide in-service training to certificated employees and classified staff who provide instruction to or have regular personal contact with pupils in K-12th grades on the early identification of pupil mental health issues.

Kidsdata is a source for policy options that could promote children’s emotional health.

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