MHSOAC Represented at World Wellbeing Forum


World leaders and wellness advocates learned a little bit more about the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) at an international gathering of experts united in their desire to share and explore ideas about wellness.

The gathering took place at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 6th World Forum in Incheon, Korea in November 2018. The OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy focused on The Future of Well-being.

The OECD represents the governments of 34 democracies with market economies that work with each other, as well as with more than 70 non-member economies to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development. The MHSOAC was invited to present information about its innovative initiatives.

The Commission’s Executive Director Toby Ewing served as a panelist at the Every Youth Counts: Measuring and Investing Upstream Ensures Equitable and Prosperous Futures for All  forum on November 28, 2018.

“In California, mental health is about wellbeing,” Ewing said. “It’s about making sure that children learn, that adults have jobs and income security, and that people are avoiding involvement in the criminal justice system. It’s about making sure that we don’t have homelessness and that suicides are going down. So what we are preventing isn’t the onset of mental illness. What we are preventing is the loss of wellbeing.”

Other panelists included Adam Luecking of Clear Impact based in Washington, D.C. and Samantha Green of Applied Survey Research of San Jose, California. Green’s presentation showcased Santa Cruz County’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project.

“In our current system of homeless in the United States, we realized that change really happens in communities and that interventions have to be localized,” Green said. “So the Homeless Demonstration Project is an opportunity to do just that.   The funds came from the federal government to help build and address a system of care for young people that are experiencing homelessness. The funds are extremely flexible. It’s all about innovation. It’s all about finding new ways of working together.”

Her Royal Highness Princess Petra Laurentien of the Netherlands delivered the keynote address, Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in provided the welcome address and Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary General of the United Nations gave the closing remarks.

Much of the conference focused on the role that data, digitalization, technology and innovation play in overall wellness.

“We have this expectation in California that our mental health space, our system, will be innovative,” Executive Director Ewing said. “We require our system to invest $100 million a year in innovative approaches, and from our policy perspective, it is the expectation that our system will continuously improve.”

Ewing also described the Commission’s engagement with California’s technology sector.

“We have reached out to Google, Uber, Facebook, Microsoft and SalesForce,” he said. “We’re trying to build opportunities to connect the best of our mental health knowledge base and the best of our innovation sector to really think about how the public sector can borrow some of that corporate DNA to really drive transformational change.”