San Francisco Could Embrace Universal Mental Health Care

San Francisco supervisors are considering a ballot measure that would offer free, universal mental health care to all San Francisco residents. The proposal was introduced Tuesday, May 28 by Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney. A vote is expected by the end of this month.

If supervisors approve Mental Health SF, the decision would go before voters in November. The ballot measure would ask them to approve an Excessive CEO Salary Tax for companies whose CEOs make 100-200 times more than their employees. The tax would fund on-demand psychiatric and substance abuse care for any San Franciscan who needs it, said Ronen. It would also pay for expanded long-term treatment programs and a new office for care coordination.

The plan could prove critical for San Francisco’s efforts to combat homelessness. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20-25% of the nation’s homeless individuals suffer from some form of mental illness.

San Francisco’s district attorney and public defender, as well as California Assemblyman Phil Ting, have voiced public support for the proposal.