2021 Advocacy Letters & Statements

Support California Senate Bill 224 Mental Health Education for Students

May 19, 2021 – Bill 224

The Honorable Toni Atkins
Senate President Pro Tem, California State Senate

Dear Senator Atkins,

Catholic Charities of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties requests your support of Senate Bill 224 (Portantino) which requires that students between grades 1-12 receive mental health education at school. The National Institute on Mental Illness reports approximately 75 percent of mental illness manifests between the ages of 10 and 24. Since adolescents visit the doctor less often than any other age group, early warning signs of mental health needs in our youth can go undetected.

Catholic Charities operates year-round academic and enrichment programs for underserved, vulnerable, at-promise students in the Bay Area.  Many of our students experience extreme poverty and instability, which are known to cause trauma and mental health issues.  These financial unstable conditions have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

We believe mental health education is equally important as required health education subjects for all public school students such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

It is imperative that students receive mental health education as part of their regular studies to help remove the stigma from mental health issues and thus improve access to assistance.  As children and youth spend more hours at school than at home, the public education system is the most efficient and effective setting for providing universal mental health education to them.

Please accept Catholic Charities’ support for this important bill to make mental health education for our children and youth a top priority at this crucial time.


Jilma Meneses
Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Charities
San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties

cc: Senator Anthony Portantino, California State Senate