Weekly Wrap-Up
August 20, 2021
Severe Depression and COVID-19:
Communities in Need Across the U.S.

As the nation works to mitigate the public health crisis introduced by COVID-19, we have a critical responsibility to ensure a fast and coordinated response to address the growing mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.
The data collected from over 2.6 million users visiting MHA Screening (at www.mhascreening.org) in 2020 is the largest dataset collected from a help-seeking population experiencing mental health conditions during COVID-19. Analysis and dissemination of this data will aid a timely and effective response to the increasing rates of anxiety, depression, psychosis, loneliness, and other mental health concerns across the country.

Timely Access to Mental Health Care

Treatment for those in need, when they need it
Current regulations fail to provide timely access standards for follow up with caregivers such as social workers or therapists. In a recent survey, 88% of mental health therapists at California's largest HMO reported that weekly psychotherapy treatment is not available for patients who need it and that over half wait more than 4 weeks for follow-up appointments.
SB 221 passed the Senate with bi-partisan support, and received unanimous approval from the Assembly Health Committee, on which I sit. The bill is supported by a broad coalition of mental health and substance use disorder advocates and providers, including the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, the California Catholic Conference, the California State Association of Psychiatrists and the Steinberg Institute.
Jasmin Iolani Hakes: 
My Daughter Fell Off the Mental Health Care Cliff
Our mental health system has failed my daughter. Again. Actually, that’s not true. There is no system, no real help for her.
My 20-year-old daughter tried to kill herself three weeks ago. She took a lot of pills all at once and, afraid that wouldn’t do the trick, drove toward the American River to drown herself. Her boyfriend happened to drive past her car and waved her down. That serendipity is the only reason she’s alive today.
California Law Regarding Provider Network Adequacy and Timely Access to Care
California law requires plans to have adequate provider networks and to provide clients with timely access to care. This means there are limits on how long clients should have to travel to see their see healthcare providers and how long they have to wait to get health care appointments, as well as telephone advice.
Timely Access to Care
California law requires health plans to provide timely access to care. This means that there are limits on how long you have to wait to get health care appointments and telephone advice.
If you have a problem getting timely access to care, you should call your health plan. If your plan does not resolve your problem, contact the Help Center.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Blue Shield of California Provides $500,000 to Increase Diversity in Mental Health Workforce
Investment in Health Career Connection supports new career pathways for 36 interns from diverse backgrounds
Blue Shield of California today announced $500,000 of support to help train and equip the next generation of diverse mental and behavioral health professionals and leaders throughout the Golden State.
The funds will support Health Career Connection’s (HCC) summer internship program for college students and recent graduates, who are from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds and pursuing mental and behavioral health career opportunities.
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