California’s Mental Health Crisis: What Went Wrong? And Can We Fix It?

Gov. Gavin Newsom is steering a major transformation of California’s behavioral health care system, with much at stake in the years ahead. On Oct. 6, the Sacramento-based publication Capitol Weekly invited KHN’s Angela Hart to moderate an expert panel tackling the origins of the state’s broken system and potential solutions ahead.

The lively discussion featured health care leaders with deep experience in the political, provider and research aspects of mental health and addiction. The panelists were Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLK Community Healthcare; former state Sen. Jim Beall, a Santa Clara County Democrat who spearheaded mental health legislation during his tenure in the legislature; Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California; and Janet Coffman, a researcher and faculty member with Healthforce Center at the University of California-San Francisco.

The discussion illuminated challenges that arise when the state puts insurance companies in

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Q&A: How Will California’s New 988 Mental Health Line Actually Work?

NEED HELP?

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

In September 2020, Congress passed bipartisan legislation creating a three-digit national suicide hotline: 988. Think of it as an alternative to 911 for mental health emergencies.

The system is intended to make it easier to seek immediate help during a mental health crisis. Instead of calling 911 or the 10-digit national suicide hotline, Americans theoretically will be able to speak to a trained counselor by calling 988 from most any phone line.

The federal law allows states to raise funds for the effort by levying a surcharge on monthly bills for mobile and landline phone service. The money can be used to support the dedicated call centers, pay for trained mobile response

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Trabajadores de salud alertan sobre el aumento de la violencia en hospitales

El departamento de emergencias del Hospital San Leandro, en California, donde trabaja la enfermera Mawata Kamara, se cerró de urgencia cuando un visitante, preocupado por no poder ver a un paciente por las restricciones de covid-19, amenazó con volver con un arma.

No fue la primera vez que el departamento se enfrentó a una amenaza de arma de fuego durante la pandemia. A principios de año, un paciente psiquiátrico al que todos conocían se volvió cada vez más violento, gritando insultos raciales, escupiendo a los empleados y lanzando puñetazos antes de amenazar con dispararle a Kamara en la cara.

“La violencia siempre ha sido un problema”, dijo Kamara. “Esta pandemia realmente solo le puso una lupa”.

En los primeros días de la pandemia, las celebraciones nocturnas elogiaban la valentía de los trabajadores sanitarios de primera línea. Un año y medio después, esos mismos trabajadores dicen que están experimentando un aumento

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