Friday, December 21, 2012

California Legislator Urges Biden to Consider State's Example in Funding Mental Health Services

In response to the mass shooting last week at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told Vice President Joe Biden in a letter this week that the federal government should consider copying California’s strategy for funding mental health services. According to a report today in the Sacramento Bee, Steinberg told Biden that the federal government should adopt something similar to the Mental Health Services Act passed by California voters in 2004. That act levied a special tax on high-income residents to pay for housing, medication, therapy, and other services the mentally ill.

Steinberg, who cosponsored the legislation, said the act has been effective in promoting early and broad-ranging intervention. On Wednesday, President Obama instructed Biden to oversee the administration-wide review that also will consider gun-control legislation and ways to keep society from glamorizing guns and violence.

The program in California has not been without controversy. A 2010 study linked a drop in emergency psychiatric commitments in the state to the program’s effectiveness, but other reports have found that money has gone to programs not directly involved with early intervention for people with mental illness.

For more information about the program see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: vinz89/


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