Mental Health in the Election: California Keeps Funds Intact

In the clutches of international financial difficulties and an economy that is proving to be difficult to manage at all levels, many states are grappling with tough decisions in terms of putting together a sound, reasonable, and acceptable budget. California is a prime example; with massive debt and levels of unemployment hitting record highs, the state is looking at a series of difficult choices in deciding which services are most critical, and mental health is not exempt. Recently, state government proposed several measures aimed at allowing the governor to achieve a balanced budget, one of which threatened to create significant problems for state mental health professionals, their clients, and California’s children in need of therapy.

The proposition, which was resoundingly voted down this week, would have amended the Mental Health Services Act, passed in 2004 and credited with making great strides for children and state psychotherapy programs at large. If the proposition had passed, approximately $230 million per year, for a period of two years, would have been kept from the state’s mental health industry and related social programs, going instead toward facilitating a more attractive budget. The proposition would have had the greatest effect on programs for children and young adults.

As a number of states across the country share in the burden of balancing social programs and incentives with exhausted funds, many clients and professionals may be at risk. But California has put forth a valuable message about the importance of the mental health industry with its vote, and is likely to be joined by other states in declaring that this critical area, akin to basic medical and emergency services, is not negotiable.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Linda


    May 26th, 2009 at 7:48 PM

    What is a country without its youth? How can youth be a vital force if they dont have it in them to stay on the balance? I am glad this didnt get passed. The only thing that’s holding so many people together during these times is the ease of availing therapy and counselling during these times. A teenage boy in our neighbourhood was contemplating suicide because of the constant bickering at home since the time his parents lost their jobs. It was his student counsellor who recognised this depression and sent him to therapy. He also helped his parents get part time jobs as teaching assistants in his school. I think the dole system needs to be examined more than ever before they cut corners on mental health.

  • Stacie


    May 27th, 2009 at 2:58 AM

    At least California is thinking and working on figuring out what is more important. just wished many other states would follow this.

  • Cierra


    May 27th, 2009 at 2:59 AM

    It’s a shame this was voted down. Many children and young adults would probably have benefited from this.

  • Rose


    May 27th, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    Hallelujah! Finally Californians and their politicians have made a sound choice. It would be completely irresponsible to allow this funding to come to an end. Can you imagine how many young people would suffer as a result of losing that money? That would not be at all fair to those who need the help the most.

  • Holly


    May 28th, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    This is too critical of an area to allow it to pass us by. Keeping our children healthy and happy ensures a much better tomorrow for all of us.

  • Carson


    May 29th, 2009 at 6:02 AM

    It is about time that people from all walks of life are standing up and beginning to take mental health seriously. This is no laughing matter people! There are people who are having their lives ruined everday because there is no money and funding for treatment. I am hopeful that some of that is beginning to change.

  • Stanley


    May 30th, 2009 at 8:45 PM

    Mental health has never been more critical in this country. More suicides and killings than ever before have been witnessed and recorded. A friend of mine has benefitted so much from sending her son to a state run service for autistic children. The child’s violent behaviour is a thing of the past as a result.

  • Wallace


    May 31st, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    Do we soft pedal people these days? I can understand facilities for spastics, schizophrenia etc. I cant understand people not wanting jobs that are too low for them while being depressed about unemployment. I think the govt. also needs to be careful about how it spends the money alloted for mental health services.

  • Tallie


    June 1st, 2009 at 5:45 AM

    Yay! Finally my state gets in the news for doing something right for a change!

  • Annabelle


    June 4th, 2009 at 3:08 AM

    I wonder if they will try and get this passed again? I sure hope they try because I would love to see at least one state fighting back for something so helpful.

  • Michele


    June 7th, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    When there is still this kind of debate in states all across the country that is when you know that mental health care is just another critical area of health care that cannot be allowed to fail in our country. We cannot allow our society to go back to a time like the 1950s when issues like these were pushed under the rug and people with a mental health disability were just left to fend for themselves or even worse be holed away in some God awful facility where they were just doped up until they died. Everyone deserves better than that and I hope that more people are beginning to see that. I think that is the case but sometimes I do have to wonder.

  • Jillian


    June 21st, 2009 at 8:38 AM

    Amen Michele! I agree with you 100%. I don’t live in Cali, but I think it’s definetly time for a change and this would be for the better.

  • Joe Barry

    Joe Barry

    June 26th, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    Mental health is crucial to this country. I am happy the proposal was voted down as it would have put a lot of people at risk. Many young people are today suffering from anxiety and depression and we can’t let them down. they are the future of this country.

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