AB 2142 (Haney)Therapy in Correctional Facilities – Cosponsored

March 28, 2024

The Honorable Kevin McCarty
Chair, Assembly Committee on Public Safety
California State Assembly
1020 N Street, Room 111
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: Cosponsor Support for AB 2142 (Haney)

Dear Assemblymember McCarty,

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) is pleased to cosponsor AB 2142 (Haney), legislation which would create a pilot program at select prisons to ensure that behavioral health therapy is accessible to incarcerated people who do not have a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) severe mental health disorder classification. As a result, this bill would increase access to behavioral health services to individuals not currently eligible to receive them.  

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. Everyone, even individuals who are justice involved, have a right to recovery and should not be denied behavioral health services that could prevent self-harm, improve wellness and reduce recidivism.

According to a 2022 CDCR report, 45.5% of recorded prison suicides were among the Hispanic population, while 27.9% were among African Americans.[1]  These significant disparities underscore the lack of support reaching our most underserved communities. Furthermore, 67,000 incarcerated Californians have no access to any mental health care at all, rendering them unable to process trauma, work on addiction, and address other behavioral health issues. AB 2142 offers a mechanism to broaden preventive services to these individuals, without being classified as having a serious mental health condition, thereby reducing the likelihood of crises. This preventative measure can help identify and support underserved communities and ensure delivery of culturally responsive support and services. The access to preventive services is essential for addressing the trauma individuals experience before and during incarceration.

For these reasons, we support AB 2142 and ask for your “Aye” vote. If you have any questions, or if MHAC can provide any assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me or our Interim Public Policy Director, Karen Vicari, at kvicari@mhaofca.org.

In Community,

Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO


[1] 2022 annual report on suicides and suicide prevention … (n.d.). https://cchcs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/60/2022-Annual-Report.pdf

AB 2051 (Bonta) PSYPACT – Sponsor

March 5, 2024

The Honorable Marc Berman, Chair
Assembly Committee on Business and Professions 1020 N Street, Room 379
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: AB 2051 (Bonta) PSYPACT – Sponsor

Dear Chair Berman,

Mental Health America of California and the Steinberg Institute are proud to co-sponsor AB 2051 (Bonta) to add California to the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), which will increase Californian’s access to behavioral services at a critical time when we are facing both a mental health crisis and a workforce shortage. We respectfully request your support when this bill comes before you.

Today, nearly one in six Californians is experiencing some form of mental health challenges, but access to care is devastatingly limited. According to a 2018 poll by the California Health Care Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 23% of Californians received the mental health services they needed. This disparity between need and access to care is in large part due to the ever- worsening behavioral health workforce shortage.

Due to the workforce shortage, California cannot meet the growing demand for behavioral health services. Attrition across the industry will exacerbate this shortage in the years to come. According to the Steinberg Institute, to meet the growing need for behavioral health services and attrition across the field, California will need to add nearly 375,000 workers over the next decade, or 32,000 workers a year. Specifically, California will need to add approximately 30,000 psychologists to California’s workforce over the next 10 years.

When Californians do find a psychologist, they cannot see them when they are travelling out of state, or if they relocate to another state, disrupting their care. This is critically important for young adults who move out of the state to attend college. The current psychology workforce and existing laws surrounding the practice of psychology do not adequately address or accurately reflect the needs of Californians.

Occupational licensure compacts are one way that we can address the behavioral health workforce shortage and get Californians the care they need now. Through licensure compacts, states establish and agree upon uniform standards that enable multi-state practice. There are currently 15 Occupational Licensure Compacts recognized by the National Center for Interstate Compacts.

PSYPACT, the occupational licensure compact for psychologists, was created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASSPB) in 2014. To date, 40 states have enacted PSYPACT legislation, joining the compact. By providing a means for psychologists to practice across state lines, PSYPACT increases access to care and allows for continuity of care when patients or providers relocate or travel. Because all compact states enact the same model legislation, PSYPACT promotes cooperation between states and provides a means for telepsychology regulation and consumer protection.

California can’t afford not to join PSYPACT. We must use all tools at our disposal to address our behavioral health workforce shortage and ensure clients have continuity of care. For these reasons, Mental Health America of California and the Steinberg Institute are proud to co-sponsor AB 2051 and respectfully request your support when this bill comes before your committee. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Karen Vicari at kvicari@mhaofca.org and Tara Gamboa-Eastman at tara@steinberginstitute.org.

Sincerely,

Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO
Mental Health America of California

Tara Gamboa-Eastman
Director of Government Affairs
Steinberg Institute