All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is grey (and the sky is grey)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)
California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
The 1960’s song California Dreamin’ paints a utopian picture of the golden state. While California has its perks, many of its residents don’t feel particularly safe, warm, or dreamy. Nearly 1 in 6 Californian adults suffers with a mental health need, and 1 in 20 has a serious mental illness that makes it difficult to fully function. The prevalence is even higher in young people.
While these statistics are sobering, it’s even more concerning that the majority of those suffering are not receiving care. According to the most recent report from the California Healthcare Foundation, half of adults and two thirds of adolescents with mental health needs are not receiving treatment.
Although California’s uninsured rate hit a historic low in 2016, 2.9 million residents remain uninsured.  Those who are insured often have high deductibles and copays, making mental health treatment a luxury rather than a necessity.
A 2008 federal parity law and an older California law require insurance companies to beef up their benefits for mental health and substance abuse treatment, however change occurs slowly within a broken system. A 2014 review of 26 major insurance companies revealed that zero of them were able to prove full compliance with the new regulations.
Inadequate resources complicate the problem. According to the California Hospital Association, the state is experiencing a crisis in the availability of psychiatric beds.A significant downsizing of psychiatric facilities combined with steady population growth has resulted in a 42 percent loss of psychiatric beds per capita since 1995. Because of this crisis, many people don’t receive the inpatient stabilization they need.
In addition to beds, California is also short on psychiatric providers. Most communities need a minimum of one psychiatrist for every 30,000 people (20,000 for higher risk populations). Many California communities fall significantly short of this standard.
Lack of access to care is also influenced by a variety of other factors, including significant racial and ethnic disparities, socioeconomic status, and stigma surrounding mental illness.