Mental Illness (271505)

With children across California headed back to school, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently unveiled California’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health to ensure all California kids, parents and communities have increased access to mental health and substance use services. 

Nationally, children are reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety at record rates and are considering or attempting suicide at historic levels. Here in California, about one-third of 7th and 9th graders and half of 11th graders experienced chronic sadness in the 2020-2021 school year and it’s estimated that 1 in 10 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 suffered from at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Suicide rates for California youth ages 10 to 18 increased by 20% from 2019 to 2020. 

California is taking urgent action to address this crisis. For kids and families needing help now, some elements of the governor’s plan are already available, including the a resource hub, https://www.chhs.ca.gov/childrens-mental-health-resources/, which includes several support hotlines, CalHOPE and informational guides on suicide and depression warning signs.

The governor unveiled the plan at McLane High School in Fresno, which provides social emotional support services for students with a dedicated staff made up of psychologists, social workers, and welfare specialists. 

“Mental and behavioral health is one of the greatest challenges of our time. As other states take away resources to support kids’ mental health, California is doubling down with the most significant overhaul of our mental health system in state history,” Newsom said. “We’re investing billions of dollars to ensure every California child has better access to comprehensive mental health and substance use services. The Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health is premised on a very simple belief: every single kid deserves to have their mental health supported. That’s the California Way – putting our kids first.” 

The plan will make it easier than ever before for kids to access critical mental health and substance use services — in their schools, in their homes and in their communities. Read the full Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health at https://tinyurl.com/32n5mv99.

The governor also signed AB 2508 by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) to better define the role of school counselors that recognizes the importance of access to mental health.

Over the last three years, California has launched an historic overhaul of the state’s mental health system—investing $4.7 billion to boost coverage options and public awareness so all children and youth are routinely screened, supported, and served. The funding creates new virtual platforms and establishes a new pipeline for the mental health workforce, adding 40,000 new mental health workers in the state.

If a friend or loved one is having suicidal thoughts, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org/.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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