Dr. Richard Pan Introduces Legislation to Address CA’s Mental Health Crisis and Get Our Students the Help They Need

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 21, 2019 Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento area, and State Senator Anthony Portantino, introduced Senate Bill 428 today to increase school and community-level capacity to tackle California’s growing youth mental health crisis.

The measure is sponsored by a coalition of organizations including the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), Born this Way Foundation, and Children Now.

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Specifically, SB 428 will require applicants for new and renewed teaching credentials to complete a course in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA.) YMHFA is a comprehensive training specifically designed to equip educators, family members, and caregivers with the skills and knowledge to identify, understand, and respond to the signs or risk factors of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth.

“High school students face numerous challenges and many need mental health support to succeed,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region. “SB 428 improves access to mental health counseling by training teachers to get students the help they need so students are better able to focus on their studies and graduate.”

“The California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) is proud to endorse SB 428 authored by State Senators Dr. Richard Pan and Anthony Portantino. This legislation will bring Youth Mental Health First Aid into California’s classrooms and will provide educators with the vital skills and confidence needed to support adolescents suffering from mental health or substance use issues. SB 428 is a key step in ensuring students have a safe and supportive educational environment in their schools,” said Le Ondra Clark Harvey, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs.

“Having just held two mental health first aide workshops in my district and hearing from parents, teachers and administrators about the value of formalizing this discussion and first aid training, I’m even more committed than ever to seeing this important training formalized.  Far too many of our children are struggling with stress, depression and other mental health needs that we need to bring the discussion out of the shadows.  I’m very pleased to be joining my friend Dr. Pan in this effort,” said Senator Portantino.

“The mental wellbeing of our young people is critical to their ability to lead healthy, thriving lives. Now more than ever, we need to be doing more to actively support the mental health of youth – including in our schools,” said Maya Smith, Executive Director. “That’s why Born This Way Foundation is proud to be a part of this important step towards ensuring that educators are equipped with the tools they need to identify, understand, and respond to the mental health needs of their students.”

“The California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA) is proud to join with Born This Way Foundation, The California Council of Behavioral Health Associations (CBHA) and Children Now in thanking State Senators Dr. Richard Pan and Anthony Portantino for their leadership. SB 428 provides counties an additional way to support students and teachers by offering vital training on how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. We echo our partners by saying we support a culture of strength and wellness within our schools,” said Tom Renfree, Interim Executive Director.

“Our children are in crisis; this bill is a step towards helping teachers be better equipped to support the well-being of students,” said Ted Lempert, President, Children Now.

Statement from Le Ondra Clark Harvey, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) on behalf of the SB 428 coalition:

“California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA), California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), Born This Way Foundation, and Children Now have come together to strongly endorse SB 428, because California needs actionable solutions to our growing youth mental health crisis. SB 428 would require applicants for teaching credentials to be trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid, an evidence-based program that broadens knowledge of mental illnesses and addictions and equips individuals with the skills they need to assist adolescents facing a behavioral health crisis. We thank Senators Pan and Portantino for their leadership and look forward to working with them to pass this vital piece of legislation.”