During the pandemic, mental health challenges became a massive issue for many Americans. As the world reopens, mental health should still be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. As part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 recovery plan, $6 billion was allocated to mental health systems in the state of California. But how will this new budget specifically help people experiencing homelessness obtain mental health services?
Mental health issues are one of the leading causes of homelessness in California. In a Los Angeles Times investigation, about 57% of people surveyed during point-in-time counts were affected by mental illness. Mental health challenges leading to homelessness are mainly due to the cut of social programs and state-funded mental health institutions in the 1980s. Gov. Newsom’s recovery plan seeks to help those experiencing mental illnesses through more state-funded efforts.
Another area in Gov. Newsom’s recovery plan includes $12 billion over two years to address the homelessness crisis in the state. Part of this plan is to create a new human encampment strategy that allows those experiencing homelessness to move out of unsafe and unhealthy encampments into a more stable housing environment. Some of the allocated funds create approximately 42,000 new housing units through Homekey – a new model for homeless housing. Some of these housing units aimed at people experiencing mental health challenges and homelessness, which allows a direct intervention for that person’s mental health issues. These facilities can provide counseling, provide medication and house those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.
Schools are also getting money to create a better mental health program for students, which will, in turn, help the youth experiencing homeless that attend them. Many students experiencing homelessness rely heavily on school resources for everything from lunch to guidance from teachers. Having free mental health services at schools allows these students to gain more counseling and have an easily accessible space to talk about their situation.
Overall, the new plan set in place will help people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Seeing this plan through is much awaited by the homeless industry, as it will help many who cannot afford mental healthcare services and provide easier access to housing for the community.