Mental Health Education & Training Bill Heads to Governor

Wednesday, September 13 2023

For Immediate Release: September 13, 2023

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Mental Health Education & Training Bill Heads to Governor

Sacramento, California – SB 509, authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank), passed the Senate today and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for signature. The bill addresses the growing mental health crisis among California’s youth by implementing mental health education and training in schools. 

“Healthy school environments are crucial to having healthy children,” stated Senator Portantino. “In order to prepare school employees to help our students with mental health challenges, we must provide them with adequate mental health education and training. When someone needs a Band-Aid for a wound, we give it them without hesitation. When a person is hurting inside, it is imperative that our campuses have trained personnel to direct that individual to the proper expert for help. That’s why it is imperative to focus attention on first aide training for behavioral health and not just physical health. I look forward to the Governor’s signature on this important health measure.”

Approximately 75% of mental illness manifests between the ages of 10 and 24. Since adolescents visit the doctor less often than any other age group, early warning signs of mental health needs go can undetected. Under existing law, the California Department of Education is required to identify an evidence-based mental health training program for local educational agencies to use to train teachers and other school personnel who have direct contact with pupils. However, schools are not mandated to require such training for their staff.

SB 509 will require the California Department of Education to ensure that 100% of certificated staff, and 40% of classified staff who work directly with students, be trained in evidenced-based behavioral health training program. This instruction will guide school staff on how to provide referrals to mental health services, substance use disorder services, or other support to individuals in the early stages of developing a mental illness or substance use disorder. This training requirement is limited to certified and classified staff working with pupils in grades 7-12. SB 509 will task the CDE to identify evidence-based training programs on mental health for teachers of students in kindergarten to 6th grade by January 1, 2025.

 “CBHA is proud to sponsor this important measure and continue working to advance policy that improves school climate and access to behavioral health interventions,” ,” said Le Ondra Clark Harvey, Ph. D., Chief Executive Officer of California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CBHA). “We understand the plight of so many students and school staff who are in need of training like the ones this bill would mandate- especially in the aftermath of a pandemic that has impacted the youth our members serve. We stand in support of Senator Portantino as he advances policy changes that will benefit the most vulnerable.”