SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) is proud to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB 46 into law. This bill continues and expands the work of previous legislation that has removed harmful and antiquated language, such as ‘insane’ and ‘lunatic’, when referring to those with mental illnesses.
It is important that California updates state law to reflect language that is both culturally-competent and accurately reflects the reality of people living with mental illness. By changing society’s perception of widespread mental illness, AB 46 is an impetus for improving the solutions our state crafts to issues such as homelessness, recidivism and job security, with both empathy and compassion.
“As 1 in 6 adults have a mental health need and approximately 1 in 20 Californians suffer from a serious mental illness, it is critical that our state laws reflect the reality of worthwhile treatment and recovery for our community members experiencing mental health challenges,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-51). “By removing dehumanizing language from California law, AB 46 will reduce the perpetuation of discrimination and misconceptions about those who face mental health challenges and promote the dignity of all Californians.”
Khatera Tamplen, Chair of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC), a proud sponsor for AB 46, affirms that, “Every person, regardless of the medical challenges they face, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and AB 46 helps move California in that direction by removing hurtful, outdated and inappropriate language from its statutes. One of the goals of our Commission is to remove the stigma around mental health and this bill would eliminate dehumanizing language that is no longer acceptable.”
While the effort to eliminate offensive and outdated language has long been championed by legislators and advocacy organizations alike, certain terminology has remained. Disability Rights California (DRC), a co-sponsor of AB 46, states that replacing inappropriate terms used to describe people with mental health issues, “with language that speaks to the person first and their condition second, AB 46 will encourage acceptance of the normalcy and reality of widespread mental health challenges.”
The Steinberg Institute, a supporter of AB 46, states, “Studies show that many people believe those living with mental health disorders are permanently disabled and cannot be well, productive citizens. These all too common misunderstandings about mental health deter people living with mental illness from participating in society, and even cause individuals suffering from mental health challenges to avoid seeking treatment for fear of stigma… Language shapes the way we view our world, and seemingly insignificant words can have lasting impacts on perception.”
Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-51) emphasizes the importance of mental health, as well as the impact of her bill in stating, “AB 46 will reinforce the fact that all people with mental health challenges have the ability to live full, productive and meaningful lives.”