California Gov. Newsom announces $4.7 billion 'master plan' for kids' mental health

'You come to the schools and work as a counselor - $20,000 of any of your loans or student debt will be forgiven.'

ByAlyssa Flores and ABC30.com staff via KFSN logo
Friday, August 19, 2022
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Governor Gavin Newsom has announced what he calls a 'master plan' to address the mental health crisis among California youth.

FRESNO, Calif. -- If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Governor Gavin Newsom has announced what he calls a 'master plan' to address the mental health crisis among California youth.

Newsom made the announcement during a visit with First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom to McLane High School in Fresno on Thursday.

The governor and the first partner spent a little over an hour at the school, and heard from a student who says when she was a little girl, school staff failed her when she needed help most.

McLane High senior Aliyah Barajas told her story about self-harm that began when she was 10 years old.

"My parents weren't contacted, I wasn't referred to a counselor, the way that I was told I would be, and there was no follow-up... I know I am not the first, the last, or the only 10-year-old girl who had to go through that," said Barajas.

Newsom said Barajas' experience is an example of why he is spending $4.7 billion on mental health for those up to 25 years old.

The plan includes training for 40,000 behavioral health professionals, creating an online platform for mental health assessment and intervention, a suicide prevention program, and doubling the number of school counselors in schools, by helping to pay for their education.

"We will provide 20,000 scholarships for two years of your service. You come to the schools and work as a counselor. $20,000 of any of your loans or student debt will be forgiven," Newsom said.

The governor pointed to statistics among California youth.

There are more than 284,000 coping with major depression and 66% of kids with depression don't get treatment.

The First Partner introduced online resources to help kids and adults and talked about the concerns she feels as a mother of four.

"If we don't change things now, how can we be surprised when we have the violence that we have, the bigotry that we have, the hate and the racism we have, online and in person?" she said.

While at McClane High School, Newsom also signed into law AB2508.

The bill defines more specifically the role of school counselors, highlighting the importance of access to mental health.