Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced $480.5 million for 54 projects to improve California’s behavioral health infrastructure for children and youth as part of his Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health.
This investment will provide grant funding to construct new facilities and expand existing facilities that help children, youth, transition-age youth, and perinatal individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders.
“We’re overhauling our mental health system to connect young Californians with the care and support they need,” said Newsom. “Too many Californians are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. This funding will support critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that have committed to serving the diverse range of children and youth covered by Medi-Cal.”
According to the California Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, the global pandemic highlighted the mental health crisis and the heavy toll it placed on youth nationwide — especially those in underserved and marginalized communities.
“Nationwide, our kids are more anxious and depressed. They feel isolated and lonely. Suicide rates are climbing,” the Master Plan stated.
In California, over 284,000 youth cope with major depression, 66 percent of kids with depression don’t receive treatment, and suicide rates for kids aged 18 to 18 have increased by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020.
The California Master Plan also stated: “We’re taking urgent action to address this crisis. As other states cut resources for kids’ mental health, California is doubling down with the most significant, multi-year overhaul of our mental health system in state history.”
The 54 projects throughout the state will increase care, especially in the least restrictive, community-based settings, with community wellness/youth prevention centers, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders, school-linked health centers, and outpatient community mental health clinics. These projects include:
- $57.4 Million for a Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital. In Los Angeles, the Kedren South Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital & Children’s Village will receive funding for a psychiatric acute care hospital with 36 beds.
- $27.6 Million to Treat Substance Use Disorder, Boost Slots in Orange County. The Orange County Health Care Agency will expand adolescent residential treatment facilities for youth suffering from substance use disorder (SUD) with 32 beds, perinatal residential SUD with 24 beds, and community mental health clinic outpatient with 2,626 slots.
- $9.3 million to Fund an Adult Residential Treatment Facility in Watsonville. The facility will assist Californians suffering from SUD, with seven beds, and Outpatient Treatment for SUD with 106 slots.
- $7.9 million to fund a Community Mental Health Outpatient Clinic in Hoopa. Managed by the Yurok Youth Center, the grant funds 300 slots in the clinic, a community wellness/youth prevention center with 1,450 slots, outpatient treatment for SUD with 27 slots, and a school-linked health center with 50 slots.
Additionally, California’s fundamental overhaul of the state’s mental health system will boost coverage options, service availability, and public awareness so all children and youth are routinely assessed, supported, and served. This more proactive and responsive care system will:
- Create a virtual platform for next-generation digital mental health assessments and interventions.
- Expand interventions early on so children and youth with — or at high risk for — mental health and/or substance use conditions can get the care they need before conditions worsen.
- Increase the number of counselors in schools so students can access mental health services easily, conveniently, and at no cost.
- Expand the capability of clinics to increase community-based mental health services so more young people receive the care they need.
- Develop a targeted youth suicide prevention program for those at increased risk, create a 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, and provide grants for school and community-based crisis response following a youth suicide or attempt.
- Build infrastructure and staffing to ensure young people with the most significant symptoms and severe diseases have high-quality settings that are safe, secure, and healing.
“With significant and innovative state and federal investments in homelessness, health care delivery reform, and the social safety net, California is addressing historic gaps to meet the growing demand of services and supports for children and youth across the state,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency.
In California, the rates of serious mental illness and substance use disorders are highest for individuals ages 18 to 25, and rates of children and youth experiencing behavioral health conditions, youth emergency department visits for mental health concerns, and youth suicides continue to rise. Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of diagnosable mental illnesses begin by age 14, three-fourths begin by age 24, and most substance use begins in adolescence, emphasizing the need to strengthen prevention and early identification and intervention services.
Also, in California, 13 percent of children three to 17 years of age reported having at least one mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral health problem, and eight percent of children have a serious emotional disturbance that limits participation in daily activity.
“As a parent, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and feeling powerless to help. In California, we take the mental health and wellbeing of our children seriously, and we’re tackling this problem head-on with significant investments in the infrastructure of the state’s mental health system,” said Jennifer Siebel Newsom, First Partner of California.
Another way California plans to build the state’s mental health systems is by ensuring that mental healthcare doesn’t break the bank by making sure vital services are covered by insurance and adding new Medi-Cal services that jointly support parent-child needs to improve behavioral health.
There will also be increased access to a wide range of mental health services, with a focus on prevention and early intervention, allowing schools to reach more students and provide more counseling and mental health support — without footing the bill. Kids will also receive the support they need through increased access to and de-stigmatizing mental healthcare.
The state will also create more tools for parents — including new, easily digestible video content to build knowledge, tools, and capacity to support the behavioral health of children — and develop a workforce necessary to provide the care that youth need by hiring, training, and engaging more mental health workers, expanding remote access to services, and training teachers on how to identify warning signs.
“These investments offer a unique opportunity to expand new capacity and address the needs assessment gaps within California’s behavioral health continuum,” said Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Director Michelle Baass.
The DHCS is also released $2.1 billion to the state through six grant rounds targeting various gaps in the state’s behavioral health facility infrastructure:
- Round 1: Crisis Care Mobile Units;
- Round 2: County and Tribal Planning Grant;
- Round 3: Launch Ready, totaling $739.5 million, were awarded in 2021 and earlier this year;
- Round 4: Children and Youth grants include cities, counties, Tribal entities, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations statewide that serve target populations;
- Round 5: Crisis and Behavioral Health Continuum Request for Application for $480 million was released on October 20, and awards will be made in spring 2023. This round of funding will continue to expand behavioral health service capacity across the state;
- Round 6: Outstanding Needs Remaining After Rounds 3 Through 5.
“With these grants, we significantly increased outpatient capacity related to mental health and substance use disorder services for children and youth. Successful treatments for children and youth experiencing mental health and substance use disorders are evident in outpatient settings that integrate family support,” Baass commented. “These investments align with other state efforts around integration, such as California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.”