Padilla Announces Plans to Launch First-Ever Senate Mental Health Caucus During SF LGBT Center Visit

Senator Padilla talks with members of the SF LGBT Center

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, amidst a rise of anti-LGBTQ+ hate in California and across the country, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) met with local leaders, including Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and mental health professionals who work to provide holistic support, crisis intervention, and mental health services to LGBTQ+ youth in San Francisco. During the visit, Padilla held a roundtable discussion to hear the mental health concerns of LGBTQ+ youth and the community as he prepares to launch the first-ever Senate Mental Health Caucus.

“LGBTQ+ youth are struggling under the weight of a rise in hateful rhetoric and political attacks—with nearly a third of the community saying their mental health is negatively affected by hostile legislation. My visit to the SF LGBT Center today proves that our work to address the youth mental health crisis isn’t just important, it’s lifesaving,” Senator Padilla said. “As we lay the groundwork to launch the first-ever Senate Mental Health Caucus, the conversations I heard today provide valuable feedback to take back to Congress as we craft legislation that addresses mental health challenges. It’s clear that there is a severe need for mental health support, and I’ll continue working to increase mental health resources and end the stigma that surrounds it.”

“Given the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate incidents and legislation that specifically targets queer and trans youth, it is critical that we prioritize investments in organizations that provide lifeline mental health services,” said Supervisor Mandelman. “It is great to see Senator Padilla’s initiative to establish a Senate Mental Health Caucus to elevate the need for comprehensive mental health resources at the national level.”

“At the SF LGBT Center, we support hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth facing barriers to accessing mental health support by offering a breadth of free bilingual, holistic, client-centered, and gender-affirming mental health services,” said Rebecca Rolfe, Executive Director at SF LGBT Center. “We thank Senator Alex Padilla for taking the time to hear from our Youth Services team members who are on the frontlines providing these lifeline services to our community at a time when we need it most. We look forward to his long-term plans to increase access to critical mental health services for LGBTQ+ youth.” 

Senator Padilla is working with the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and a bi-partisan group of senators to launch the Caucus. The Senate Mental Health Caucus will serve as a bipartisan forum where Senators can work together to elevate mental health issues as a national priority by holding informational briefings to pursue common legislative goals and raise awareness of important mental health issues. It will aim to inform and educate Senators in order to remove stigma, increase access to mental health services, improve workplace mental health, and ensure veterans, servicemembers and their families receive access to comprehensive mental health services.

Senator Padilla has long championed investing in mental health resources and ending the stigma that surrounds mental health. He previously introduced theComprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act, legislation that would fund pilot programs in primary and secondary schools to address mental and behavioral health issues and implement intervention programs for students. Last week, Padilla joined Senate Democrats in re-introducing the Equality Act, legislation to ensure civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Senator also joined his colleagues in introducing a Senate resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

Video of the press availability and b-roll of the conversation can be downloadedHERE


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