Kansen Chu, who is currently running for Assembly District 24, has made mental health in schools one of his top priorities. Kansen has been fighting for mental health resources for years, and in his time in the state legislature he has authored and successfully passed several bills focused on helping schools with this growing problem. There is still work to do, but Kansen Chu’s strong track record shows that he’s more than prepared to lead as mental health challenges evolve alongside the coronavirus.
Lockdowns, academic disruptions and loneliness are just a few of the aggravating factors in District 24’s ongoing struggles with mental health. And the stakes are higher than ever: according to the CDC, in the first year of the pandemic, intentional self-harm among 13- to 18-year-olds increased by 91%, overdoses increased by 95%, and diagnoses of major depressive disorder increased by 84% countrywide. Locally, a recent survey from Santa Clara County revealed that 47% of 5th graders have unmet mental health and emotional needs. In short, the entire US is facing a tidal wave of mental health challenges in its youth, and District 24 is not immune.
After serving on the Santa Clara County Mental Health Board for 6 years, Kansen has consistently advocated for better mental health services. Chu secured over $4 million in funding for mental health services and co-authored AB-8, which requires every California public school to have at least one mental health professional for every 600 pupils. Chu also authored AB-1838, which ensures that students are able to take time off from school to address mental health challenges. The wellness centers that came out of this funding have been incredibly successful, and recent student exit surveys indicated a dramatic increase in students feeling happy, calm and less sad after leaving the wellness centers. Schools have a vital role to play in addressing mental illness, and a research brief from the Santa Clara County Office of Education reports that students are 10 to 21 times more likely to receive behavioral health services when they are provided on a school campus.
If elected, Kansen plans to continue increasing funding for mental health services, and he won’t let up as the pandemic winds down. This new funding will pay for more counselors and wellness centers, but will also help pay for mental health consulting services in all public schools. Additionally, Chu plans to increase mental health benefits in health insurance and build a clear-cut pipeline for mental health professionals to work in District 24’s schools.
Improving mental health stands to benefit everybody, from reducing homelessness to curbing crime. Kansen’s advocacy for mental health funding has had palpable benefits for the youth of District 24, and if elected, he will continue to bring resources home from Sacramento.
For more information on Kansen Chu’s platform, please visit https://kansenchu.com/.
This post was paid for by Kansen Chu for Assembly FPPC # 1440742.