Senator Wiener’s Mental Health Workforce Bill Passes Congress

Sacramento – Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 964, Behavioral Health Workforce Activation Act, passed Congress today by a bipartisan vote of 60-0. It will be sent to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk.

Part of SB 964 — $126 million to help expand social worker training programs, $50 million to add slots to the Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program, given to primary education $10.6 million for California’s loan repayment program to increase the number of awards for care and behavioral health providers — passed as part of the state budget. The rest of the bill’s provisions will help eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to well-trained and competent workers entering the field and working at the top of their range. Requires a long overdue analysis of behavioral health licensing requirements. Additionally, SB 964 requires a comprehensive landscape analysis of behavioral health workers.

“Many mental health workers are burnt out, underpaid, or both,” he said. Senator Wiener“These workers couldn’t be more important to our state’s future. They’re helping vulnerable Californians struggling with mental illness and addiction. needs to help these workers. SB 964 will help us better understand how to do that and where the barriers are preventing behavioral health workers from staying on the scene. increase.”

Currently, only one-third of Californians with mental illness receive the care they need. One of the biggest reasons for this failure is the lack of behavioral health workers. Today, 31 counties in California with a “high need” for mental health services are reporting labor shortages.

The behavioral health workforce shortage is transforming from a challenge to a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic results in mass resignations of healthcare workers and a surge in mental health needs. Despite the growing need for quality mental health and addiction treatment, facilities across the state are closing due to worker shortages. contract bonuses will make it even more difficult for hospitals and other facilities to retain staff. And without essential behavioral health workers to provide this vital care, people with mild mental health symptoms can slip into severe mental illness.

People from the linguistically and ethnically diverse LGBTQ+ community living in rural areas are seriously underserved in all health care. This is especially true for mental health care. And people suffering from severe mental illness are often forced to cycle through hospital emergency rooms, prisons, and city streets due to lack of mental health workers and resources.

SB 964 is sponsored by the Steinberg Institute. Sen. Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) and Anna Caballero (D-Mercedo) are the primary co-authors of his SB 964, and Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) is a co-author. Congressmen Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Marc Levine (D-Marin County), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Marie Waldron (R- Escondido) ) is a co-author.

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