Community Advocacy

Enhancing local participation and voice by informing, educating, and advocating for eight specific populations.

Community Engagement & Advocacy

In approving the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) in 2004, California voters mandated the use of transparent and collaborative processes in determining the mental health needs, priorities, and services. The Act aims to change the way people access mental health services and participate in policy planning. It also seeks to change public perception and reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges.

Through MHSA funding, the Commission awards contracts to local and state-level organizations to provide advocacy, training, education, and outreach on behalf of eight specific populations.

Transformation of the Mental Health System Through Partnerships

The Commission contracts with community organizations to advocate in support of the MHSA’s goals, in particular through the engagement of eight populations. Click on a group to read more about the community organization.

Stakeholder Organizations (hidden)

Clients and Consumers

California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organization (CAMHPRO)
CAMHPRO was founded in 2012 by leaders of local consumer-run groups and individual local leaders and is the hub of a statewide advocacy network of 17 consumer-run organizations. CAMHPRO’s mission is to transform communities and the mental health system by empowering, supporting, and ensuring the rights of consumers, eliminating stigma, and advancing self-determination for all by championing the work of consumers.

Diverse Racial and Ethnic communities

California Pan Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN)
CPEHN’s mission is to advance health equity by advocating for public polices and sufficient resources to address the needs of communities of color in California. CPEHN creates and implements polices that reflect community needs that result in better health and a better quality of life using an inclusive definition of health. CPEHN sits on key local and state advisory committees and testifies before decision making and legislative bodies, providing CPEHN partners with an avenue to elevate community needs to policy makers. Read the latest State of the Community Report from CPEHN on their website.


NAMI California
The National Alliance on Mental Illness California (NAMI CA) is one of the state’s largest advocates for families and individuals affected by serious mental illness. With 58 local affiliates, NAMI CA connects local services and supports to statewide strategies in training, education, outreach, and advocacy. Activities in advocacy include train-the-trainer instructions, family member groups, peer training, and MHSA 101 classes. Read the latest State of the Community Report from NAMI CA on their website.

LGBTQ+ populations

California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network (Health Access)
Health Access is a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, bringing together dozens of groups representing LGBTQ populations, people with disabilities, children immigrants, communities of color, women, families, and others. The California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network is a Health Access program that focuses on education, outreach, and advocacy to achieve LGBTQ mental health equity. The Network advocates directly with decision makers in the legislature, agencies, and committees, and coordinates task forces that provide hands on training and technical assistance for community members. Read the latest State of the Community Report from Health Access on their website.

Parents and Caregivers

United Parents
United Parents is a grassroots nonprofit agency founded on the principle of “parents helping parents.” United Parents helps families identify and bridge gaps in traditional services by integrating local resources, and in turn enhancing long-term outcomes for children, families, and their communities. United Parents advocates for families, through training and capacity building of parents at the local level, and with policymakers at the state level. United Parents’ signature program is the Parent Partner Program which provides families with clinically supervised para-professionals who have raised a child with a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, to enhance treatment plan goals. Read the latest State of the Community Report from United Parents on their website.

Transition Age Youth

California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN)
A grassroots advocacy organization with a 71 percent TAY youth board, CAYEN is a leader in outreach and education. Many members work or volunteer in the mental health field as Peer Mentors or Youth Advocates and represent a variety of counties throughout the state giving them a unique perspective on the issues affecting their local communities. CAYEN engages youth and young adults who have been touched by the mental health, juvenile justice, or foster care systems by providing support and trainings to help TAY develop leadership skills, developing young people’s ability to advocate at the state and local levels, and developing a statewide directory of TAY drop-in centers. Read the latest State of the Community Report from CAYEN on their website.


The Veterans Art Project (VETART)
VETART advocates for the positive mental health and wellness needs of veterans, their families, and caregivers through outreach and the practice of art making. VETART’s measured arts engagement focuses on positive socialization/connectedness outcomes using the Visual Arts language through mindfulness and the process of artmaking. This process culminates into deep, personal engagement and a completed art piece. VETART’s outreach programs advocate for the mental health and wellness of Veterans at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Read the latest State of the Community Report from VETART on their website.

Immigrants and Refugees

Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County (Superior Region)
Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County is a partnership with the Butte County Behavioral Health and California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity, California Reducing Disparity Project to help Hmong families and individuals recover from mental health illness through comprehensive and culturally appropriate interventions utilizing both Western and traditional support to reduce mental health. It also provides weekly recreational groups and direct services resulting in navigation of immigrants and/or refugees to community resources, Butte County Behavioral Health, and healthcare check-ups.

African Communities Public Health Coalition (Los Angeles Region)
The African Communities Public Health Coalition (ACPHC) specifically works with communities of African descent, including populations such as refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented individuals, and human trafficked African-born immigrants. These populations have suffered the consequences of dislocation due to events such as war, natural disasters, and other dangerous conditions that have led them to flee their homeland and seek asylum in the United States. They represent the full spectrum of the African Diaspora: Ethiopian, Eritrean, Sierra Leonean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Guinean, Liberian, Cameroonian, Sudanese, Somalian, Kenyan, Ugandan, and those of Caribbean descent.

Visión y Compromiso (Bay Area Region)
Visión y Compromiso’s (VyC) advocacy, training and education, and outreach and engagement programs reach primarily low-income, un/underinsured, and mostly Spanish speaking Latina/o women, men and multigenerational families originating from throughout Mexico and Latin America. VyC is committed to community well-being by supporting a network of health and community workers called Promotoras(es,) who are primarily Latina women immigrants and/or refugees. The network includes diverse job titles such as peer educators, system navigators, outreach workers, advocates, community health workers, and are collectively referred to as Promotores.

Healthy House Within a MATCH Coalition (Central Region)
Healthy House provides local-level advocacy and a multidisciplinary approach to cross-cultural health to increase awareness of and access to mental health resources to the identified populations by providing professional interpreters, translators, and cultural brokers, offering services in 19 languages (Hmong, Mien, Lao, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Portuguese, Spanish, Punjabi, Farsi, Dari, Marathi, Hindi, Urdu, Assyrian, Ukrainian, Russian, Arabic, and Japanese) to physical, dental and mental healthcare facilities.

Boat People SOS, Inc. (Southern Region)
The overarching goal of Boat People SOS‐Center for Community Advancement (BPSOS‐CCA) is to reduce long‐term negative impacts of mental health disparities on Vietnamese immigrants and refugees resulting from untreated serious mental illness.

The contracted community organizations advocate for a state and local system that is client and family-driven, culturally competent, and collaborative in design.

These contracts support statewide and local community-led events which highlight mental health services for underserved populations and provide opportunities to reduce stigma and inform state and local leaders about the needs of underserved populations.


The Mental Health Services Act was pioneering in its requirement that transparent and collaborative processes be used for determining mental health needs, priorities, and services at the state and local level. In addition, the act provides funding to support the vigorous engagement of community members and organizations in the mental health system.

Welfare and Institutions (W&I) Code Section 5892(d) requires that the Mental Health Services administrative fund “include funds to assist consumers and family members to ensure the appropriate state and county agencies give full consideration to concerns about quality, the structure of service delivery, or access to services.”

The Commission is currently contracted with 12 local and state-level organizations to conduct advocacy, outreach, engagement, training, and education for eight specific unserved and underserved populations.

On February 27, 2020, The Commission awarded $12 million in contracts for Clients and Consumers, Diverse Racial and Ethnic Communities, Families of Clients and Consumers, LGBTQ+ Communities, Parents and Caregivers, and Veteran Communities.

The Commission awarded a $2 million contract for Transition Age Youth on August 22, 2019.

It awarded $2 million in contracts for Immigrant and Refugee populations on April 25, 2019.

Reach out to learn more about Community Advocacy Partnerships