NAMI California Partner Hosts Behavioral Health Wellness Fair

Left to right: Harriette Stevens, CALBHBC Board Member & NAMI Member/Facilitator, Amanda Levy, Director of Government Affairs with California Psychological Association, Agnes Lee, Special Assistant to the Speaker, Marcel Harris, NAMI California Advocacy Manager

On March 4, the Connected Coalition conducted the Behavioral Health Wellness Fair at the Sacramento State Capitol Building on behalf of Mental Health America. Connected Coalition, which NAMI California is a partner of, designed the event to raise awareness and provide educational information focused on behavioral health topics and partner organizations working on those issues. The day was kicked off by a powerful line up of legislative speakers and mental health supporters followed by a behavioral health resource fair with CBO’s working on related issues. Afterwards, groups led legislative advocacy visits with the focus of access to behavioral health services and an emphasis on Mental Health Parity.   

District 25 Assembly Member Kansen Chu spoke about the need to make sure young people have access to mental health services where they are (on campus) and shared Assembly Bill 8, which would require at least one mental health professional on all K-12 campuses, per 400 pupils. Assembly Member Chu also spoke briefly about the NAMI California-sponsored Assembly Bill 680, which will require that emergency dispatcher training requirements be increased to include mental health identification and crisis intervention training. This legislation would improve the quality of information provided by dispatchers to officers for emergencies involving persons with a mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or substance abuse.

District 51 Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo spoke about Assembly Bill 46, which would replace derogatory terms in legislation with more culturally sensitive terms when referring to individuals living with serious mental illness. Assembly Member Carrillo also talked about access to treatment for all individuals regardless of immigration status and is currently focused on making sure we hold our systems accountable. Carrillo encouraged the audience to continue to educate policy makers by sharing lived experiences and act as a resource for mental health issues.

Senator Dr. Richard Pan representing District-6 (Sacramento), spoke about his work as Chair of Subcommittee 3 on Health and Human Services and recent hearings regarding mental health funding. Dr. Pan mentioned the importance of making sure we continue to invest dollars into mental health services, supports and care. Senator Pan has introduced legislation to equip teachers with necessary Youth Mental Health First Aid Training and address California’s mental health crisis and get students the services they need to be successful.