UPDATED 9:19 AM PT – Friday, August 19, 2022
Governor Gavin Newsom (D) announces his master plan to address what he describes as a mental health crisis plaguing California schools. While speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he unveiled a $4.7 billion investment into mental health services.
NEW: CA just launched a $4.7 BILLION Plan for Kids’ Mental health.
– More counselors in our schools
– More accessible and affordable care for parents
– Less stigma around mental healthcare
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 18, 2022
According to Newsom, at least one-third of middle school and high school students have experienced “chronic sadness” or “depressive episodes” during the 2020 and 2021 school years. Mental health experts attributed this to the COVID-19 lockdowns instituted nationwide at the height of the pandemic with Newsom implementing an incredibly strict order forcing schools to adopt remote learning.
“The last two years there’s been a stacking of stress, the likes of which none of us could have conceived of and none of us hope for in the future,” said the Governor. “And that stacking of stress comes from years and years where we’ve neglected your mental health, where we’ve neglected investing in the subject. That brings us here today.”
These funds will be used to train over 40,000 mental health professionals and offer a $20,000 scholarship to those seeking a mental health degree. This comes in spite of recent census data which showed only 34 percent of Californians have earned a college degree.
“Forty-thousand behavioral health professionals we want to train over the next few years with real resources to back that up,” Newsom stated. “We want to double in the state of California. Double. This is just table stakes minimum. Double the number of school counselors in the state of California. And here’s how we’re backing that up. We will provide $20,000 scholarships. For two years of your service.”
Newsom then went on to take shots at Alabama for making recent investments in two mega prisons to help address the state’s issues with prison overcrowding. He also claimed that Florida banned 42 books containing topics related to mental health, despite reports saying the Sunshine State removed these books from school catalogues due to their promotion of critical race theory and other political ideologies.
“Alabama, $400 million to open two new mega prisons,” he noted. “California, we’re opening hearts and minds to try to destigmatize and address these fundamental issues. We’re proud to use the phrase social and emotional support. You got a state of Florida that just banned 42 books because they don’t like that phrase and if you think I’m lying or exaggerating, look that up.”
In the meantime, Newsom said this is only one part of a more comprehensive plan to address the issue.