San Francisco officials push to offer universal mental health care

San Francisco officials push to offer universal mental health care
© Joaquin Sosa

San Francisco officials are pushing to ask voters in November to weigh in on a measure that would offer mental health care to any resident in need in the city.

Local city Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney are expected to introduce the proposal at a Board of Supervisors meeting June 4, local radio station KQED reported Tuesday.

The city's residents would then have a say on the initiative in November. If the measure is approved, San Francisco would be the first city in the country to guarantee mental illness and addiction are covered for every resident.

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The ballot measure would create a program called Mental Health SF, borrowing from the Healthy San Francisco program, a 12-year-old program that ensured medical care for nearly every city resident.

“San Francisco has the opportunity to lead, to say, ‘This should be a right for everybody.’ We’re going to build a system around it,” Haney told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s going to be messy as we figure it out, but we have to figure it out. We have the values. We should have the resources. We just need the leadership.”

Mental Health SF would center around the construction of a new treatment center, which would open by June 2022, the bill's sponsors told the Chronicle.

Any city resident seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment could attend the center and receive timely access to psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, case managers and a pharmacy.