Senator Glazer’s Bill SB 21 to Support Youth Mental Health

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(Courtesy of Graham Wiseman)
Taken in 2011, the Wiseman family (L-R) Graham, Nicole, Colin and Caroline at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI, was celebrating their grandparents’ 55th anniversary. The Wiseman’s lost their son Colin to suicide in 2013.

    Special interest license plates help support causes and programs such as breast cancer awareness, veteran initiatives, environmental responses and more. A new cause might be added to the list – mental health for teens.
    Orinda resident Sen. Steve Glazer, 7th District, is one of several to help raise mental health awareness with measure SB 21, which passed the Senate floor unanimously Jan. 26.
    Simply passing a bill, however, does not put the plates on the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) list, but an intent-to-buy 7,500 plates, with no financial commitment, will bring it a step closer.
    If approved and signed into law by the Governor in June, the bill would “require the State Department of Education to sponsor the mental health awareness license plate program through the DMV, and the DMV would make the plates available to purchase,” as stated in a press release from Glazer’s office.
    Glazer pledged his support with his own intent-to-purchase announcement about the plates: “It is important we all do our part and pledge to order and purchase these license plates once this bill is signed into law.”
    One organization involved in the effort is the non-profit BeingwellCA. Its cofounders include Graham and Caroline Wiseman, Gail Miller and Graham’s sister, Tracy Wiseman. Graham and Caroline, of Lafayette, lost their 15-year-old son Colin in 2013 to suicide rooted in depression. Caroline, a Miramonte High graduate, grew up in Orinda.
    Two months after losing their son, Acalanes High School parents Holly Nolan and Emma Bishopp, contacted the Wisemans to share their thoughts about mental health supports in the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD).
    “One parent had a daughter with anxiety; the other battled leukemia and won. We combined our resources and researched what could be done better to prevent another loss and help those struggling,” said Graham.
    He noted they had three goals: “Establish wellness centers on all campuses, staff them with district employees and create a re-entry plan for students on the California Department of Education’s Home & Hospital Instruction Program.”
    Graham clarified, “The Home & Hospital program is for students who can’t physically attend school due to many reasons. For example, it could be a broken leg, sickness or disease, the needs of an elite athlete or child actor, etc. Eighty-five percent of the kids who are out of school and getting a teacher home visit per week are now out for mental health issues.”
    “We helped convince AUHSD to spend $1.2 million to staff and open wellness centers on all five campuses,” said Graham.
    Clearly, the founders accomplished their goals.
    President and Co-Founder of BeingwellCA, Miller said when one of her three daughters was diagnosed with a severe mental illness at age 12, it put her entire family into a tailspin.
    “It was a daunting task learning how to navigate the mental healthcare system,” said Miller of Antioch. “But what was even more overwhelming was learning how to keep my child safe and supported at school.”
    She researched and attended workshops and counseling sessions.
    “Little did I know that would begin my path as an advocate. The license plate began as a dream to provide mental health resources to students, parents and faculty,” she said. “Teaming up with Graham, Caroline and Tracy Wiseman to form BeingwellCA has helped make that dream come true. I never want any parent to walk in our shoes.”
    Funds raised for these license plates would go to the California Department of Education, earmarked for youth mental health.
    Glazer encouraged everyone to help: “We have all seen how COVID-19 has had devastating effects on individuals’ mental health throughout the state, but it has most especially harmed our students. Too many are falling through the cracks, especially as they have had to navigate all the emotional complexities the pandemic has created.” Glazer concluded, “Therefore, it is of utmost importance to help provide additional resources for schools and greater awareness, so students know they aren’t alone.”
    For more information and/or to pledge support, visit www.beingwellca.org.

Charleen Earley can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

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