Senator Cortese Introduces Bill to Address California’s Mental Health Crisis

Senator Dave Cortese introduced legislation today that will help communities prepare for sudden closures of psychiatric and maternity wards in hospitals. SB 1300 responds to a mental health crisis unfolding in Silicon Valley and the rest of California by increasing transparency and empowering communities to protect their mental and maternity units in hospitals.

In recent years, California has faced significant healthcare challenges that have left vulnerable populations at risk. The state has witnessed an alarming rate of maternity ward closures, with at least 46 units shutting down over the past twelve years, over half in just the last three. This trend, as reported by CalMatters, disproportionately impacts low-income, Black and Latino communities, forcing pregnant women to travel greater distances for care and placing undue strain on remaining facilities.

Additionally, California confronts a severe shortage of mental health beds. The rollout of the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court program —currently expanding across the state— aims to address the mental health crisis. However, the success of CARE Courts hinges on the availability of mental health facilities, which are dwindling due to sudden hospital closures.

For example, in Silicon Valley in 2022, Good Samaritan Hospital's Mission Oaks location closed its 18-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Los Gatos. State and local agencies and partner organizations weren’t able to assess the impact of the closure in time to arrange for alternative placement. Senator Cortese’s SB 1300 will establish that crucial advance notice and impact studies.  

“The closure of vital psychiatric and maternity units, such as the one at Good Samaritan Hospital in my district, can be catastrophic for families and creates a public health crisis. Some of these sudden hospital closures occur in lower-income areas. The outcome is 21st-century redlining, with underrepresented people cut off from essential services,” said Senator Cortese (D-San Jose). “SB 1300 will ensure that hospitals provide sufficient notice and conduct comprehensive impact analyses when discontinuing such essential services. This will help communities provide a lifeline to those needing mental health support.”

SB 1300 extends the required notice period for the closure of maternity or psychiatric units from 90 to 120 days. It also compels hospitals to submit a comprehensive report detailing the closure’s potential impact on the community. The bill is sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“The sudden closure of psychiatric facilities is a growing concern for families trying to support their loved ones experiencing mental illness. Bed shortages create longer wait times, negatively impacting individuals in crisis. Often times if a facility is closed, families have to travel longer distances, increasing stress and financial burden, hindering their ability to support their loved one in need,” said Jessica Cruz, CEO of NAMI California. “SB 1300 provides critical safeguards to remove barriers to care for those living with serious mental illness and their families.”

Senator Cortese has been a long-time advocate for quality behavioral health systems. In 2022, he supported the CARE Act, which focuses on assisting individuals with untreated serious mental disorders. Demonstrating his dedication to healthcare, Senator Cortese supported the 2023-24 state budget, which allocated nearly $3 billion to primary care, including significant investments in behavioral health capacity.

Senator Dave Cortese represents Senate District 15, which encompasses San Jose and much of Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. Visit Senator Cortese’s website: