California’s children’s hospitals have a unique perspective on
the state’s behavioral health system, including its shortcomings.
Across the socioeconomic spectrum, emergency departments
are treating an increasing number of children in crisis.
Sometimes these children have had no previous interaction
with a behavioral health provider, despite their symptomatology.
They may also face significant barriers to obtaining
outpatient or residential treatment even after their emergency
department visit or psychiatric inpatient stay.
CCHA is working to raise awareness about this crisis and to
advocate for changes to state and federal law to improve access
to early prevention, intervention and treatment services for
children struggling with behavioral health issues.
On March 5, 2021, CCHA and the California Alliance for Child and
Family Services hosted a series of virtual briefings with members
of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, legislative and budget staff,
and behavioral health leadership at the California Health and
Human Services Agency and the Department of Health Care Services.
The purpose of the briefings was to highlight the impact
the COVID-19 pandemic is having on children and adolescents, and
discuss our advocacy priorities related to these impacts. You can
watch the recording of the legislative staff briefing below:
Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of
14 and three-quarters begin by age 24. In other words,
mental illness is a disease of youth — one with profound
long-term implications for children, their families and their
communities. California’s children’s hospitals — and
especially, our emergency departments — serve an increasing
number of youth in crisis every year. We have observed the
shortcomings in the current behavioral health system and we
recognized the opportunities for improvement.