Following Mental Health Summits Senator Portantino Joins Dr. Richard Pan to Introduce Legislation to Further Address Youth Mental Health Crisis

Thursday, February 21 2019

Sacramento, California– Today, a coalition of organizations including the California Council of Behavioral Health Associations (CBHA), California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), Born this Way Foundation, and Children Now, issued statements supporting SB 428. The bill would require applicants for new and renewed teaching credentials to complete a course in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA is a comprehensive training specifically designed to equip educators, family members, and caregivers with the skills and knowledge to identify, understand, and respond to the signs or risk factors of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. The purpose of the bill is to increase school and community-level capacity to tackle California is growing youth mental health crisis.  The credential-training matches closely with the Mental Health First Aide workshops Senator Portantino recently held in the 25th District with the First District PTA.  Over 200 participants look the 8 hour training in Pasadena and Glendale.  Dr. Pan and Senator Portantino are jointly authoring SB 428.  Dr. Pan is a pediatrician who represents Sacramento in the Senate. Portantino represents the San Gabriel Valley centric 25th District. 

“The California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) is proud to endorse SB 428 authored by State Senators Dr. Richard Pan and Anthony Portantino. This legislation will bring Youth Mental Health First Aid into California’s classrooms and will provide educators with the vital skills and confidence needed to support adolescents suffering from mental health or substance use issues. SB 428 is a key step in ensuring students have a safe and supportive educational environment in their schools,” said Le Ondra Clark Harvey, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs.

“High school students face numerous challenges and many need mental health support to succeed,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region. “SB 428 improves access to mental health counseling by training teachers to get students the help they need so students are better able to focus on their studies and graduate.”

“Having just held two mental health first aide workshops in my district and hearing from parents, teachers and administrators about the value of formalizing this discussion and first aid training, I’m even more committed than ever to seeing this important training formalized. Far too many of our children are struggling with stress, depression and other mental health needs that we need to bring the discussion out of the shadows. I’m very pleased to be joining my friend Dr. Pan in this effort,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.

“The mental wellbeing of our young people is critical to their ability to lead healthy, thriving lives. Now more than ever, we need to be doing more to actively support the mental health of youth – including in our schools,” said Maya Smith, Executive Director. “That’s why Born This Way Foundation is proud to be a part of this important step towards ensuring that educators are equipped with the tools they need to identify, understand, and respond to the mental health needs of their students.”

“The California Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA) is proud to join with Born This Way Foundation, The California Council of Behavioral Health Associations (CBHA) and Children Now in thanking State Senators Dr. Richard Pan and Anthony Portantino for their leadership. SB 428 provides counties an additional way to support students and teachers by offering vital training on how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. We echo our partners by saying we support a culture of strength and wellness within our schools,” said Tom Renfree, Interim Executive Director.

“Our children are in crisis; this bill is a step towards helping teachers be better equipped to support the well-being of students,” said Ted Lempert, President, Children Now.


California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA) is a statewide association of county funded non-profit community agencies dedicated to the proposition that the people of California deserve a rational, comprehensive, community-based behavioral health system that is adequately funded to serve all those in need of services. We are their voice at the Capitol and with state agencies, and work to ensure that state and county programs support integrated services for children, youth, adults and the elderly which includes physical health, behavioral health, housing, social services, education, substance abuse services and vocational rehabilitation.

The County Behavioral Health Directors Association is a statewide non-profit association that represents all 58 county behavioral health directors and 2 city mental health programs (Berkeley and Tri-City) which is dedicated to advocating for public policy and services on behalf of people who are living with substance use disorders and mental illness.

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 to support the wellness of young people and empower them to create a kinder and braver world. To achieve these goals, the Foundation leverages evidence-based programming and authentic partnerships in order to provide young people with improved mental health resources and kinder communities - online and offline.

Children Now is a non-partisan, whole-child research, policy development and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California. The organization also leads The Children’s Movement of California, a network of more than 3,000 direct service, parent, civil rights, faith-based and community groups dedicated to improving children’s well-being.