American Psychiatric Association Honors Beall’s Public Service

May 18, 2009
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920

Assemblymember Jim Beall Jr. was presented with the American Psychiatric Association’s prestigious Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award this morning in San Francisco during the organization’s annual meeting.

“I am deeply honored,’’ said Beall, D-San Jose, “and I am humbled that the members of the American Psychiatric Association would deem my work as worthy of recognition.’’

Beall, the chairman of the Assembly Human Services Committee, also chairs the Select Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Beall has also sought to improve the delivery of services to people with developmental disabilities and their families a priority during his three years in the Legislature.

Beall has twice introduced Mental Health Parity bills to force health insurers to cover mental disorders and substance abuse issues equitable to the coverage provided for other medical illnesses. Both times, the bills -- which did not increase costs to taxpayers or the general fund -- were vetoed by the Governor. Beall has introduced a similar bill this session.

“Ensuring more access to mental health treatment not only improves patients’ lives but it will also help their families cope with the devastating fallout that can accompany severe mental illnesses,’’ Beall said.

During the presentation ceremony, APA officials commended Beall’s work to improve services for the people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and alcohol or drug addictions. They also cited his instrumental work as a Santa Clara County supervisor to start the Children’s Health Initiative – a trailblazing program to provide affordable health coverage for the county’s estimated 71,000 uninsured children – and also his proposal to increase state fees on alcohol to pay for treatment, medical, and prevention programs.

The Javits Public Service Award is given to a public official whose service in office has had a significant, positive impact on the field of psychiatry and the quality and accessibility of mental health care, according to the association. The award is named after the late Jacob Javits, a U.S. Senator who represented New York from 1957 to 1981. Javits dedicated his career to issues ranging from civil rights to health care.

Past recipients include former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and former California Assemblymember Bruce C. Bronzan, D-Fresno.

Officials for the American Psychiatric Association presented the award to Beall during its 162nd annual meeting, held this year at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. The association’s membership is comprised of  about 36,000 physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses, including substance abuse disorders