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California voters will decide on Newsom's mental health review, how did we get here?

California voters will decide on Newsom's mental health review, how did we get here?
California voters will be able to decide on Newsom's mental health overhaul, Proposition 1, a two-pronged measure that would fund a $6.4 billion bond for treatment beds and permanent supportive housing, while also requiring counties spend more of their existing mental health funds on chronically homeless people.

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By Jocelyn Wiener. CalMatters

The consequences of our state's long history of breaking promises to people with serious mental illness are everywhere.

It can be found under our overpasses and in our tent encampments, but also inside our jails and prisons, our emergency rooms, schools and homes.

It shows up in our public opinion polls, which repeatedly list mental health as a top concern.

Increasingly, it makes its way into our political discourse. Referring to “our broken system,” Governor Gavin Newsom has in recent years implemented mental health policies at breakneck speed.

He is now promoting Proposition 1, a two-pronged measure on the March ballot that would fund a $6.4 billion bond for treatment beds and permanent supportive housing, while also requiring counties to spend more of their existing funds to Mental health in chronically homeless people.

The measure also makes promises.

“These reforms and this new investment in behavioral health housing will help California deliver on promises made decades ago,” Newsom said.

What are the promises that California has made to people with mental illness over the years? And why do so many people continue to suffer?

Here is a brief timeline of mental health policies in our state (of promises made and promises broken) over the past 75 years.

 1950s and 1960s: an era of institutionalization

In the 1950s, it was relatively easy to force people into state mental hospitals, many of which had horrible conditions. The number of patients peaks in the late 1950s, at approximately 37 thousand. During that time, the state begins to move control of mental health services to the counties, embarking on the process of deinstitutionalization. This process accelerated in the late 1960s with the passage of the landmark Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, a law designed to protect the civil rights of people with mental illness.

1954: The federal Food and Drug Administration approves chlorpromazine (Thorazine), the first antipsychotic drug, to treat people with serious mental illness.

1957: The California Legislature increases funding for community mental health under the Short-Doyle Act, with the goal of treating more people in their communities rather than in state hospitals.

1963: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy signs the Community Mental Health Act, pledging federal leadership to build and staff a network of community mental health centers. Less than a month later, he is murdered. Many of the clinics are never built.

1965: Congress creates Medicare and Medicaid, allowing people with mental illness to receive treatment in their communities.

1967: then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signs the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which limits the involuntary detention of all but the most severely disabled people with mental illnesses and provides them with legal protection.

1970s and 1980s: California tax revolt leads to austerity

As state psychiatric hospitals close in the 1970s, many people with serious mental illnesses are moved to for-profit nursing homes and nursing homes. Their numbers on the streets and inside jails and prisons are beginning to increase. The 1980s saw significant funding cuts to mental health services at both the state and federal levels.

1978: The Community Residential Treatment Systems Act seeks to create unlocked, non-institutional alternatives for people with mental illness throughout California.

The same year, voters approve Proposition 13, which caps property taxes and reduces the amount of money available to counties for a variety of services, including mental health.

1980: President Jimmy Carter, who a few years earlier created a Presidential Commission on Mental Health at the urging of his wife Rosalynn, signs the Mental Health Systems Act to fund community mental health centers envisioned by President Kennedy.

1981: President Ronald Reagan signs the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which repeals most of Carter's Mental Health Systems Act and returns responsibility for people with serious mental illnesses to the states.

1990s: local control of mental health services

Within the decade, funding and responsibility for mental health services shift from the state to the counties. California passes law to hold health plans accountable for providing appropriate mental health treatment.

1991: The state Legislature passes a “realignment”: moving funding and responsibility for many mental health services from the state to counties.

1995: The state implements Medi-Cal Mental Health Managed Care, making counties responsible for providing many Medicaid mental health services.

1999: California passes a state parity law requiring private health plans to provide equal coverage for serious mental illness and physical health.

The same year, the Homeless Mental Illness Act, a pilot program to help homeless people with serious mental illnesses and an important precursor to the Mental Health Services Act, is implemented in three counties.

2000s: New Resources for Mental Health Care

Optimism about the state's ability to finally address the needs of people with mental illness increases with the passage of the landmark Mental Health Services Act. But the Great Recession of the latter part of the decade threatens some of that progress.

2002: The Legislature passes Laura's Law. The law, named after a young woman killed by a man who refused psychiatric care, allows, but does not require, counties to create court-ordered treatment programs.

2004: California voters approve the Mental Health Services Act. The 1% tax on people with incomes over $1 million provides a new source of revenue to bolster county mental health systems.

2008: A federal parity law, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, requires health plans that offer coverage for mental health problems and substance use disorders to provide benefits comparable to those offered for medical and surgical treatments.

2010s: Homelessness in the spotlight

The number of people with serious mental illness experiencing homelessness continues to rise. Jails and prisons are now the nation's largest mental health providers, and a backlog of incarcerated people deemed incompetent to stand trial is drawing increasing scrutiny. The number of children and adolescents admitted to hospitals in mental health crises is beginning to increase.

2010: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires insurers to provide mental health as an essential benefit.

2011: The Great Recession causes major budget cuts, pushing some people out of the public mental health system. A second move or “realignment” of mental health and substance use disorder services shifts even more funding and responsibility from the state to counties.

2012: California eliminates its Department of Mental Health and distributes its responsibilities among other state departments.

2013: The Mental Health Wellness Law injects about $143 million to increase the capacity of the state mental health crisis response system.

2018: California voters approve a ballot measure called No Place Like Home to build and rehabilitate supportive housing for people with mental illness. The measure authorizes the use of Mental Health Services Act funds to pay $2 billion in bonds.

That same year, Newsom is elected governor and promises to make mental health a major focus of his administration.

2020s: Newsom's mental health agenda

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the large number of mentally ill people on the streets, coupled with the fentanyl epidemic and a growing mental health crisis among children and adolescents, is driving increased public interest in mental health. The Newsom administration is making unprecedented investments and implementing a steady stream of major policy changes. Critics charge that some of these changes move the State toward more involuntary treatment.

2020: California passes a “groundbreaking” new state parity law, greatly expanding its previous law and making it a national leader in requiring commercial health plans to provide mental health services.

2021: The Newsom administration allocates $4.6 billion in one-time funding for a Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.

2022: The administration creates Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Courts, new court systems to address the needs of people with serious mental illness that have some echoes of Laura's Law. This time, county participation is not optional.

That same year, a massive state effort called California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) begins to roll out, promising to expand and streamline access to mental health care for people insured by Medi-Cal, the public insurance program. for low-income Californians.

2023: Newsom signs legislation that changes the definition of “severe disability” that was originally established in the landmark 1967 law limiting involuntary confinement in the state. The amendment makes it easier to keep people with serious mental illnesses by stripping them of their rights and entrusting their care to public guardians.

2024: Proposition 1 goes before voters. If passed, it will provide billions in new funding for permanent supportive housing and treatment beds, and set new parameters for how Mental Health Services Act funds are used.

This timeline was reported with the help of dozens of news articles and government and academic reports, as well as interviews and historical information provided by a variety of people, including Steve Fields, Adrienne Shilton, Michelle Cabrera, Corey Hashida, Stacie Hiramoto, Randall Hagar, Diane Van Maren, Chad Costello, and Alex Barnard 2023 Book “Guardianship: Inside California’s Mental Illness Care and Coercion System.”

You may be interested in: We all need psychological therapy to have a better quality of life: psychologist

Peninsula 360 Press
Peninsula 360 Presshttps://peninsula360press.com
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