Improving mental health treatment

Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

As the legislature adjourns for the year, I’m happy to report that two significant bills impacting mental health treatments in California are heading to the governor’s desk.

This session I introduced Assembly Bill 1352, legislation that strengthens the voice of local mental health boards to help meet the needs of the mentally ill. The Bronzan-McCorquodale Act requires county mental health systems to provide services to those with serious emotional disturbance or mental illness. The act also created local mental health boards, responsible for reviewing community needs and services. The boards act in an advisory capacity and were intended to connect family members, patients and the community to county boards of supervisors and local mental and behavioral health directors, all for the purpose of improving community mental health systems. Unfortunately, over the years their role has been marginalized. My bill will bring a broader perspective to local mental health boards, along with increased community impact and greater transparency.

I have also joined Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, as the principal co-author for Senate Bill 10. Unlike the Department of Veterans Affairs and 48 other states, California lacks a peer support specialist certification program. Studies show mental health or substance abuse treatment programs that include peer support specialists lead to fewer hospitalizations, improve client well-being, alleviate depression and many other symptoms. They also create core competencies allowing certified peers to transfer skills from county to county, while allowing providers to access federal matching funds.

I’m happy to report both of these bills were approved by the Assembly and Senate without opposition and have been forwarded to the governor.

With treatment, the mentally ill can turn their lives around. Improving our local mental health systems and expanding treatment options will lead to better outcomes for patients, their families and for California taxpayers.

Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.