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Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo Announces Landmark Legislation Expanding Medi-Cal Mental Health Coverage to Youth

For immediate release:
Wendy Carrillo (AD-52)

SACRAMENTO, CA - Today, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo unveiled AB 665, which allows Medi-Cal youth recipients to receive self-consenting mental health services as is policy with private health insurance, expanding access to mental health services to millions of children. The bill aims to create a pathway for care, healing and destigmatizing mental health. AB 665 was included in Care4All Coalition’s 2023 list of priority legislation, which looks to advance a progressive healthcare agenda in California.

“Removing barriers to mental health access for young people who are Medi-Cal recipients and destigmatizing mental health are equally important. Across all communities but in particular our Latino community, we are shifting the stigma related to mental health,” said Assemblywoman Carrillo. “In California, four in ten children receive Medi-Cal, for communities of color, 61% of African American children, 59% of Latino children, and 38% of Native and Indigenous children are Medi-Cal recipients.”

“A Center for Disease Control and Prevention report states that two in five teens felt persistent sadness or loneliness. Among teenage girls it’s three in five equating to 60% of participants. From mass shootings in public spaces and in particular, school shootings, as well as fentanyl overdoses and social media bullying, young people are experiencing a new reality. AB 665 is about making sure all young people, regardless if they have private health insurance or are Medi-Cal recipients, have access to mental health resources.” 

In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger signed SB 543 (Leno), “the Mental Health Services for At-Risk Youth Act” into law, allowing young people aged 12 and above to consent to receiving mental health care. However, young people who were Medi-Cal recipients were left out of that expansion.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of depression among adolescents has risen significantly from 28% in 2011 to 42% in 2021. In 2020, less than 19% of teenagers with Medi-Cal coverage received adequate depression screenings and follow-up care, despite nearly one in three Californian adolescents exhibiting symptoms of severe psychological distress. These findings underscore the urgent need for legislation like AB 665.

AB 665 is sponsored by The Children’s Partnership, a California advocacy organization advancing child health equity through research, policy and community engagement. Its mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth – have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive.

The Care4AllCA Coalition is managed by non-profit leader, Health Access, which advances state budget investments to invest in public health, including protecting and improving key public coverage programs like Medi-Cal, Medicare, and safety-net institutions. The organization works with a broad coalition of dozens of member organizations representing communities of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, children, seniors, people of faith, labor, LGBTQ, and working families which make up the coalition. 


Assemblywoman Carrillo was elected to serve in the State Assembly in December 2017. She represents the 52nd Assembly District, which includes the City of Los Angeles and South Glendale. She serves as the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, in addition to the Assembly Committees on Appropriations, Health, Housing and Community Development, Utilities and Energy, Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation, and the Joint Committees on Legislative Budget, and Climate Change Policies. She also serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on Latina Inequities, Vice Chair of the Legislative Progressive Caucus, as a Commissioner for the California Film Commission and serves on the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board.