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Senator Eggman Introduces New Behavioral Health Care Legislation
Cal outline

On April 4, State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), the Big City Mayors coalition, the California State Association of Psychiatrists, and the Psychiatric Physicians’ Alliance of California announced the introduction of legislation to overhaul the state’s behavioral health care system.

The eight bill package is intended to improve the behavioral health system across the continuum; from prevention and early intervention, community supports and services, intersystem collaboration, improving access to assisted outpatient treatment, providing increased accountability through outcome tracking, preventing avoidable conservatorships, and improving the effectiveness of the conservatorship process for those that need them.

The introduction of the package follows a recent assessment by the California Department of Health Care Services, which found various shortcomings in the state’s behavioral health services, including that the rate of serious mental illness in California increased by more than 50 percent from 2008 to 2019. Eggman noted the problem has only become more dire as a result of the pandemic and that she and the mayors were motivated to take strong action as a result of the behavioral health crisis growing on streets and in neighborhoods.

“We have to act and act now to make needed changes to our behavioral health care system. The crisis grows daily. California has made significant investments and more are coming to improve our behavioral health care system but we also must modernize the system to improve access and ensure people are getting the care they need,” said Senator Eggman.

A clinical social worker, Eggman has worked in the past to expand the number of counties offering Assisted Outpatient Treatment and improve full-service partnerships, the wraparound programs that currently serve many Californians with the greatest needs. Past legislative efforts to reform LPS conservatorships have proven challenging, however, in the time since the crisis has only worsened.

In making the announcement Eggman was joined by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson.

“San Francisco is a city that leads with compassion, but what is happening right now for far too many on our streets is not compassionate. And we are not alone,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Cities across California need more tools to address the crisis of mental illness and addiction we are seeing on our streets every day. Senator Eggman’s package of legislation is a critical step to reforming and modernizing our conservatorship laws to better serve those who are unable to help themselves.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also praised the proposed legislation.

“Thanks to Senator Eggman for taking on the cause of our time, mental health. These bills will help improve our broken system and provide relief to many more people,” said Steinberg. “Everybody knows somebody who is struggling with a mental health issue. Too often, there’s nowhere for them to turn to get prompt, effective care.”