Documentary on mental health in California debuts on PBS tonight

An interesting documentary on PBS tonight, called A New State of Mind, will focus on Californians struggling with mental-health issues. (The film debuts at 9 p.m.; find out more at www.eachmindmatters.org.) 

As a Midtowner living in the central city, I see a lot of the same faces day after day, men and women walking the streets. A vast majority of them need help. Others say they need to be locked up, or something.

Tonight’s documentary will hopefully help people overcome that stigma.

Over at the state Capitol, some lawmakers get it.

Sacramento’s own Darrell Steinberg, a longstanding advocate for investing in Californians mental health, had one of his bills, Senate Bill 364, make it out of the upper house this Tuesday.

His bill does this: If a mentally ill individual goes “5150,” or is involuntarily committed, the law allows hospitals to treat the individual without having to detain them. Basically, the shift is to focus on helping people, not locking them up for 72 hours.

This may seem obvious to many, but the stigma of mental illness in many ways speaks to the draconian nature of past treatment and efforts.

 Some things do get better, it seems.