May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. While the stigma around mental health treatment has reduced over the last several years, it still exists.
Raising awareness about the importance of not just staying physically fit, but also mentally fit, helps us continue to reduce that stigma, educates people on the signs of mental health struggles and where or how to seek help, and puts needed pressure on lawmakers to take action to make mental health treatment more accessible and affordable.
The prevalence of those experiencing mental health disorders has also been on the rise – the number of people with symptoms of depression and anxiety has nearly quadrupled since the pandemic.
According to the California Healthcare Foundation, nearly 1 in 7 California adults experiences a mental illness and 1 in 14 children has an emotional disturbance that limits functioning in family, school, or community activities.
The most vulnerable among us who often have the most difficult time accessing care — veterans, people living in poverty, unhoused individuals, survivors of sexual assault, and LGBTQ+ people — experience mental health disorders at higher rates than others.
There is recent legislation addressing our mental health crisis. A bill co-authored by our Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, would increase access to mental health care support on college campuses across the state.
Neighboring Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, authored a bill to create universal mental health screenings for students in middle and high school.
A law that went into effect last year increases access to needed therapy treatment by requiring that mental health and substance abuse patients be offered return appointments no more than 10 days after a previous session. This changed the historical practice of insurance companies making patients wait long periods of time before getting mental health appointments, undermining their ability to get care.
There is still so much work to do, but with more awareness of the issues and the political will in Sacramento, we can get people the help they need.
If you are struggling with your mental health, even though it may not feel like it, please know you are not alone.
If you don’t have anyone you can lean on for support or to help you access the mental health care you need, don’t give up. One thing people who survive mental health crises always say is that it does get better – and the people who love you will be so grateful that you got the help you need and deserve.
In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, I leave you here with some resources for you or anyone in your life who may need mental health support:
• 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Dial 9-8-8
Free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7 via phone call, text messaging, or online chat.
• Crisis Text Line: Text “LA” to 741741
Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free crisis support via text message.
• Trevor Project Lifeline: 800-788-7386
Support to LGBTQ youths and allies in crisis or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk.
• Substance Abuse Service Helpline: 844-804-7500
Provides screening, resources and service referrals regarding substance use disorders.
• 211 LA County: Dial 2-1-1
Hub for all types of health, human and social services in Los Angeles County.
• Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal:
Designed to assist people experiencing homelessness by dispatching homeless outreach teams throughout Los Angeles County.
Kipp Mueller is a Canyon Country resident and candidate for the state’s 21st Senate District, which encompasses the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.