SB 402 (Wahab) Expansion of 5150 – Oppose

March 18, 2024

The Honorable Aisha Wahab
California State Senate
1021 O Street, Suite 7330
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Senate Bill 402 (Wahab) — OPPOSE

Dear Senator Wahab:

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) opposes Senate Bill 402 (Wahab), legislation which expands authority to place a 5150 hold on individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to licensed mental health professionals– specifically private practitioners who are not direct staff of, or contracted by, the county.

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and advocacy since 1957. The mission of MHAC is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy. Any expansion of involuntary treatment is counterintuitive to achieving our goals.

Expanding the authority to place individuals on a 5150 hold to non-county designated mental health professionals will not only increase forced treatment but will inadvertently lead to a greater reliance on law enforcement. Private licensed mental health professionals (LMHP) often lack the logistical capacity to effectively manage crises in their work environments. For instance, the surge in telehealth usage during the pandemic underscores a reliable method for connecting individuals with mental health professionals. Many LMHP offer services via video, text, or phone. Initiating a 5150 hold on an individual while receiving remote services would introduce more challenges than the proposed bill aims to address. Therefore, making the involvement of law enforcement necessary to enforce the hold.

Moreover, the utilization of involuntary treatment via a 5150 hold presents its own set of obstacles. One challenge lies in its cost; preventive services implemented earlier in the mental health care continuum are more successful and less financially burdensome in tackling mental health issues. This approach reduces the necessity for inpatient hospitalizations, favoring the utilization of outpatient services instead. When resources and services are readily accessible, individuals are more inclined to accept and utilize them.

For these reasons, we oppose Senate Bill 402. If you or your staff have any questions, or if Mental Health America of California can be of any assistance on this or any other behavioral health bill, please do not hesitate to contact me at, or our Interim Director of Public Policy, Karen Vicari at

In Community,

Heidi Strunk
President & CEO
Mental Health America of California