Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a proposal to improve how California treats mental health, substance use disorders, and homelessness, leaders of the California Health & Human Services Agency (CalHHS), Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) underscore their shared commitment with the governor.
“The Governor’s proposals to modernize California’s behavioral health system look to pull every lever that government has at its disposal and builds on the reforms and investments we have already put into motion over the last few years, all intended to push California to do more for those suffering the most significant and most debilitating behavioral health conditions,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of CalHHS. “Together we are developing a thoughtful set of connected efforts that provide tools to help anybody, anywhere, anytime with their unique behavioral health challenges. This is another step to push us to do more and do better by Californians who need these services, often living in the shadows, and their families and communities that expect all of us to link arms and support them to thrive.”
WHAT TO KNOW: Governor Newsom is proposing a general obligation bond for the 2024 ballot designed to create thousands of new community behavioral health beds in state-of-the-art residential settings to support and house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders. The ballot would also include an amendment to the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), leading to at least $1 billion every year in local assistance for housing and residential services for people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders, and allowing MHSA funds to serve people with substance use disorders.
“By refocusing on how these dollars are used, we will address one of the most important social drivers of health for people with serious behavioral health conditions: housing,” said Dr. Ghaly. “The Governor has put forward another bold idea to ensure we have the resources to build those community beds. On top of that, this transformation is going to allow us to treat people with not only mental health issues but with substance use disorders in ways we never have been able to do before.”
“I am proud to be working with the Governor and leaders throughout the state focused on modernizing and improving California’s Behavioral Health System,” said DMHC Director Mary Watanabe. “At the DMHC, we are committed to ensuring Californians have access to quality behavioral health care services through their health plans. We are working with our state partners and the health plans we regulate to improve the delivery of care including access to quality mental health and substance use disorder services.”
“The Department of Health Care Services is working to ensure that Californians have access to behavioral health care so they can thrive in their communities,” said DHCS Director Michelle Baass. “The Administration’s plan takes significant steps to make this vision a reality through the modernization of the Mental Health Services Act.”
WHAT COMES NEXT: The Administration plans to work in close partnership with the California State Legislature, as well as with the California State Association of Counties, other critical local government stakeholders, community-based service organizations, advocates, and people with lived experience as bill language is developed.
- CalHHS Website: More information about the Administration’s policy objectives
- Policy Brief: Understanding California’s Recent Behavioral Health Reform Efforts
- Fact Sheet: Modernizing Our Behavioral Health System