By Holly Quan

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – While much of the political debate nationally and here in the Bay Area is centering on gun control following last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the head of California’s State Senate wants the focus to shift towards mental health.

California voters passed Proposition 63 in 2004, which was written by then-Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, who is now State Senate President Pro Tem. The measure created a millionaire’s tax to fund mental health services, prevention and early intervention.

“Every family, every workplace, every school. There are people who are living with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and we rarely talk about it,” said Steinberg.

Instead of focusing solely on gun control, Steinberg is writing to Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading up a panel charged with coming up with policy reforms, urging him to look to California for a much needed national mental health network.

“Adopt a national model. Adopt Prop. 63 as the national model and put up a dollar for every dollar that a state puts forward to build a mental health system that treats people with respect and with dignity,” said Steinberg.

Steinberg said the stigma attached to depression, OCD, anxiety and other afflictions must be lifted, so not only will people seek out help, but politicians will want to fund them.

Connecticut Elementary School Massacre:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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