Washington, D.C. — California State Sen. Leland Yee has received the 2011 State Legislator of the Year Award from the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) in recognition of his legislative accomplishments to increase the availability of mental health care services and to promote greater public well-being. Yee, a Democrat, was presented with the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Trained as a psychologist, Yee has been a champion for people with mental illnesses as a California Assemblyman and a California State Senator. "Senator Yee's sponsorship of bills that support mental health consumers and practitioners should be applauded. His ability to successfully pass legislation is a measure of his ability to collaborate for the betterment of mental health in California," said Jo Linder-Crow, Ph.D., executive director of the California Psychological Association.
"Advocacy for mental health issues at the state level is essential, and Yee has been a strong supporter of both the field and profession of psychology. APA is proud to present this award to someone who, as a psychologist and a legislator, has advocated for mental health," said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association.
Yee has one of the best track records for getting his bills signed into law in the California Legislature, with 133 pieces of legislation passed since 2003. Promotion of mental health has been a mainstay of Yee's legislative tenure. In 2004, Yee helped pass legislation that declares each January Mental Wellness Month in California.
In addition, Yee's legislative accomplishments for mental health include offering incentives to mental health practitioners working in medically underserved communities, requiring evaluation of current mental health sensitivity training for law enforcement officers and strengthening informed-consent requirements for mentally ill patients involved in medical research.
"It is truly an honor to receive this award from the American Psychological Association," said Yee. "I am proud of the work we have done for California's kids and those struggling with mental illness. All Californians, especially our children, deserve an opportunity to succeed and that is why I have focused my legislative efforts on mental health and kids."
Yee represents District 8 in California, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo County. He is the first Chinese American ever elected to the California State Senate and the first Asian-Pacific American appointed to speaker pro tempore of the California Legislature.
APAPO's State Legislator of the Year Award has been presented annually since 2002 to a state legislator who has prominently championed the goals of professional psychology.
The California Psychological Association, an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, represents more than 4,000 member psychologists in California and is the nation's largest state psychological association.
The American Psychological Association Practice Organization is an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.