The impacts of COVID-19 extend far beyond physical health. It’s been a burden on the economy, a strain on our health care system, and a heavy weight on our mental health, too. Across the state, the need for mental health care is increasing in the midst of the pandemic, especially for communities of color — and access to care must increase to match it.
Along with the hardship brought on by the pandemic, we’ve also learned a valuable lesson that will help us build a stronger, healthier California going forward: Telehealth is an effective and safe way to deliver timely assessments and follow-up care — even in a crisis.
Assembly Bill 3242, which we cosponsored with the California Hospital Association, aims to make mental health treatment more accessible. It would make mental health assessments — and, as a result, treatment — quicker and more accessible. It would improve response times to hospital emergency department (ED) requests for mental health evaluations by permanently allowing assessments to be done via telehealth or other telecommunications technology. That means patients in need of emergency mental health care won’t have to face unreasonably long wait times in the ED.
Let’s send a clear message to California lawmakers that we support improved access to life-saving mental health care.