Dear friends and family,
The bill Marianne and I have been pushing for, AB 2198 – requiring licensed mental health clinicians to have suicide assessment and treatment training – is officially going to California’s Governor Jerry Brown in a matter of days! After successfully passing through the Assembly, the senate committees and the senate floor – we are just ONE step from a law that will save lives. The letter I have written below, designed for you to email to our governor, shows how important it is that we pass this legislation. Please understand that even though the need for this legislation is clear and simple, there are wealthy lobbyist who never expected us to get it this close to the Governor and are working hard to defeat it.
Dear Governor Brown,
Please sign AB 2198 requiring licensed mental health clinicians to have suicide prevention training.
It will make the difference between life and death for some patients. We cannot afford to lose more lives while wait for the professions listed on this bill to gradually admit to insufficient training and make adjustments.
“Approximately half of psychological trainees had received didactic training on suicide during their graduate education…” ( Schmitz et al. American Association of Suicidology 2012)
“Less than 25% of a national sample of social workers reported receiving any training in suicide prevention” (Feldman & Freedental 2006)
“Suicide-Specific courses were present in 6% of accredited marriage and family therapy programs …” (Wonzy 2005)
Government strategies for suicide prevention make it clear that lack of training for professionals is a serious issue. (California Strategic Plan on Suicide Prevention,Part 2 and Part 3.2.1, The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP)Section 7, The 2001 NSSP). The 2012 national strategy points to Washington state’s recent law, similar to AB 2198, as an effective solution to this gap in training. Kentucky has followed and other states, like Pennsylvania, are lining up.
Washington and Kentucky are using the Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) course that has already proven to be effective. This six hour class could also satisfy AB 2198’s one-time Continuing Education (CE) requirement. Magellan Health Services of Arizona uses it and has seen a 42% reduction in suicides among those with serious mental illnesses and a 67% reduction for all psychiatric patients, 2007 through 2011.
AB 2198 is easy. Only the academic institutions lacking fifteen hours of training will need to make adjustments. The clinicians who have already graduated take a six hour, ONE TIME, CE course before relicensing. This CE is not in addition to, but part of, the 36 hours already required and will sunset out in a few years.
Suicides take nearly 4000 lives in California each year, more than twice that of homicides. It is an unrecognized mental health crisis. Not just some, but all licensed mental health clinicians should be properly prepared to make a difference. AB 2198 is a commonsense, low cost bill with minimal impact which promises lifesaving change. Please sign it.
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