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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 4:53 pm | Fair 62º


Williams Introduces Bill to Expand Comprehensive Crisis Care Services for Youth

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, on Wednesday introduced Assembly Bill 741, which would ensure that mental health services for children and youth experiencing a crisis is available and accessible.

Services include mobile crisis support teams, crisis intervention, crisis stabilization, crisis residential treatment, and rehabilitative mental health services.

AB 741 is supported by the Steinberg Institute on Advancing Behavioral Health Policy and Leadership, the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“It is imperative that families have access to these critical mental health services and receive the necessary follow up support needed,” Williams said. “The absence of these effective services combined with the dwindling number of inpatient psychiatric facilities for children (less than 100 beds for children 11 years old and under) has created an urgent need for a comprehensive response.”

Currently, there are only a handful of counties that provide these alternative services and no single county provides the full continuum of crisis mental health services for children or youth.  Too often, the children are sent to local emergency rooms that are not equipped to provide ongoing mental health treatment. The crisis becomes compounded when these children are placed on a waiting list for the next available inpatient hospital bed that are located hundreds of miles away from their families, as the only option.

This is true in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, where there are frequently no crisis beds available for youth experiencing a mental health crisis. In these cases, they are often sent to Kern or San Bernardino County, creating a hardship for the families to visit and participate in their child’s treatment. There needs to be a long term solution to provide appropriate resources and treatment for children in crisis, AB 741 seeks to provide that solution.

"Assemblymember Williams' leadership and efforts on this issue will do so much to improve the lives of children in crisis," Steinberg said. "The Steinberg Institutes mission is to inspire more elected officials to be leaders on mental health and advance long overdue legislation to fill in the gaps of mental health services in California. Assemblymember Williams and this bill exemplify what we are trying to accomplish."

It is our responsibility to ensure that every public and private health plan makes this level of crisis care available as a covered benefit to California children and youth.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.


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