Salas’s Bill to Improve Mental Health for Seniors Passes out of Key Senate Committee

AB 383 passes unanimously out of the Senate Human Services Committee

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Salas’s Bill to Improve Mental Health for Seniors Passes out of Key Senate Committee

SACRAMENTO –Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) commended the advancement of Assembly Bill (AB) 383, which passed unanimously with bipartisan support out of the Senate Human Services Committee. AB 383 establishes an Older Adult Mental Health Services Administrator to integrate, improve and increase mental health services for older adults.

 

“One in five seniors face a mental health crisis, AB 383 will create the first dedicated position in over a decade  to protect our seniors,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Older adults have seen a 58 percent increase in suicides since 1991, particularly in rural areas where access to mental health care is severely lacking. AB 383 will now help to ensure that these critical health needs for older adults are met and that our elders are properly taken care of.”

 

In 2011, due to drastic budget cuts, the position within the California Department of Aging – the Geriatric Mental Health Specialist – who was responsible for overseeing mental health services for older adults, was eliminated. The position no longer existed after the 2011 cuts removed funding for the geriatric mental health specialist until now.

 

“The leadership position proposed in AB 383 is critical to address the well documented unmet needs of vulnerable older adults. Right now, no one has the responsibility to help the state system become more responsive to the needs of older Californians,” said Janet C. Frank, Dr.PH, Faculty Associate at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, who led the first study of how the MHSA supports an Older Adult System of Care for Mental Health.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five older adults experience mental health concerns. However, less than one-third of all older adults in the United States who need mental health care receive it. Undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues have impacts for older adults and their loved ones.

 

AB 383 establishes an Older Adult Mental Health Services Administrator position to focus on prioritizing geriatrics training for mental health professionals, improving services, and standardizing healthcare needs throughout California.

 

AB 383 will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee.