Published Date: August 24, 2022

Summary: California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (the Commission) in 2019 embarked upon an effort to advance statewide prevention and early intervention in mental health. This effort was launched by Senate Bill 1004 (Weiner, 2018) and guided by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and its Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) component. Accounting for only a fraction of California’s $8–10 billion public mental health budget, PEI represents a rare instance in mental health policy where funds are set aside specifically for preventive strategies. The nearly $520 million in PEI funds allocated each year to local mental health departments bolster programs and providers tasked with overcoming deeply embedded community challenges, including stigma and insufficient services and support. The funds also help to foster resilience among those who have been unserved, underserved, or harmed by services in the past.

The Commission engaged national and local experts in the mental health prevention and early intervention field, reviewed research, and convened in-person and virtual events. During these events, community members, researchers, administrators, and other subject matter experts provided guidance and insight.

Findings: The Commission identified four findings and corresponding recommendations for the state of California (the State):

  • The State must establish multi-disciplinary leadership, deploy a strategic plan, and build capacity for using data and technical assistance to advance a statewide strategic approach to prevention and early intervention.
  • The State’s strategic approach to prevention and early intervention must directly address basic needs and trauma exposure and bolster resilience for individuals, families, and communities.
  • The State’s strategic approach to prevention and early intervention must ensure that all people have access to the information and resources necessary to support their own or another person’s mental health needs.
  • The State’s strategic approach to prevention and early intervention must ensure that every Californian has access to effective and appropriate mental health screening, services, and supports aligned with their needs.

These finding and recommendations lay the groundwork to overcome key systemic barriers, guide future funding decisions, and advance a statewide strategic approach to prevention and early intervention.

This report uses California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2013–2014 and 2018 data and cites a UCLA study.
 

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