Progress has been made in the last several decades to reduce the stigma of and increase access to treatment for mental health conditions, but we are still not at the level we should aspire to as one of the most prosperous nations in the world.
We have been actively addressing mental health issues at the state legislature for the last several years by: passing mental health parity legislation; increasing access to counseling for youth and funding school-based counselors; increasing access to mental health services for peace officers; and most recently allocating several million additional dollars to deal with the increased behavioral health needs related to COVID-19.
I have taken a particular interest in the intersection of mental health in the criminal justice system and have passed two significant bills in the last two years to divert people with mental health, TBI, or IDD issues out of the criminal system and into the civil system for appropriate treatment, and I have supported numerous measures by other legislators. Our jails and prisons should not be our de-facto mental health care system, but too often, they are just that.
We probably all know someone personally who has struggled or struggles with a mental health condition. So we should all be invested in ongoing destigmatization, efforts to increase access to care, and keeping people in mental health crises out of our justice system.