As Need for Mental Health Care Surges, A Funding Program Remains Underused

The need for mental health services has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing pressure on California’s already beset mental health care system.

Yet one source of funding that could potentially help counties meet the demand for mental health care remains underused more than a year after the California Health Report first drew attention to the issue. The funding benefits the mental health care program that serves a third of Californians.

Analysis: We Can Build an Equitable Health Workforce. Here’s How

California’s leaders must build a diverse and culturally competent health workforce. This starts with making investments in the communities that are most vulnerable and medically underserved.

Policymakers should work to expand health career pipeline programs for underrepresented students. Programs such as Health Career Connection have driven talented students of color into health care and public health careers for years. Full disclosure: I’m an alum.

For Seniors of Color, Improving Access to Vaccine Is Key

Since people of color are contracting coronavirus at disproportionately high rates, experts say it’s crucial for them to get inoculated to stop the spread. That’s especially the case for seniors of color, a group that’s even more vulnerable to developing serious complications from COVID-19 infections.

Offering vaccines in a variety of settings, enlisting trusted community groups to conduct outreach, and launching culturally-relevant public education campaigns can boost vaccine rates.

Opinion: Vaccines Are Coming. What Can We Do Until Then?

I felt relief as I received my shot. After months of relentless pandemic care on the front line, we have finally received a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19 that will help California return to some normalcy over the coming months.

I trust these vaccines and urge the community to listen to the advice of health experts. When we receive the vaccine, we don’t just do it for ourselves, we do it to protect our loved ones and others who are at higher risk. Getting vaccinated is an act of compassion that will help us to save lives and stop the spread.

How California Can Fix Its Hospice System and Reduce Care Inequities

When done right, hospice care can provide immense comfort to terminally ill patients and their families. But fraud, malpractice, unchecked growth, and lack of effective oversight from the state and federal authorities threaten the wellbeing of California’s hospice patients.

Seniors from all walks of life fall victim to these fraudulent practices, but those with limited English proficiency are especially vulnerable.

Here are a few solutions.

As California Stays Home Again, Volunteers Reach Out to Isolated Seniors

The holiday season is further adding to social isolation and feelings of loneliness many seniors have experienced during COVID-19. Many won’t be able to celebrate the holidays with loved ones and some have lost spouses or other family members to the virus.

The Social Bridging Project and other organizations that serve the elderly are ramping up efforts to reach vulnerable seniors living alone. Solutions include meal deliveries, phone check-ins and crisis hotlines.

Opinion: Communities of Color Are Supposed to Be Getting State Money to Reduce Pollution. Where Is It?

In recent years, CalEPA has more explicitly acknowledged how environmental pollution disproportionately impacts Californians of color. But we are still waiting for decisive action to fix it.

When California passed Senate bill 535 in 2012, it mandated that 25 percent of the proceeds generated from the resulting cap-and-trade program go to projects that benefit communities most impacted by pollution.

Alternatives to Calling the Police for Domestic Violence Survivors

If involving the police and criminal justice system isn’t a safe, reliable option for most survivors, why is it offered as the main pathway for seeking help? A majority of survivors who called the police on their abusers later concluded that police involvement was unhelpful at best, and at worst made them feel less safe.

The conversation has gained new urgency amidst the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to reevaluate the scope of police funding and responsibilities.

Opinion: As Telehealth Expands, We Must Include Diverse Communities

The rise in telehealth has tremendous potential to improve the health of those who have historically lacked access to medical care. Those living medically underserved areas can use telehealth to more easily connect to specialists and manage conditions from home.

But this rapid deployment of technology has not fully accounted for the needs of Black and indigenous Californians, or other people of color, including those with limited English proficiency or disabilities.

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