Remembering Richard Van Horn


Richard Van HornIt is with great sadness that we share news of the death of Richard Van Horn. The Chairman Emeritus passed away this week.

Richard was first appointed to the Commission in 2009, representing California’s then-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. He served as the Commission’s vice-chair in 2010-11, Chair in 2013-14 and Evaluation Committee Chair in 2015-16.

Richard brought to the Commission a lifetime of knowledge, experience, and passion for helping people improve their mental well-being.

Richard led the development of recovery-focused services and programs run by and for people with unmet mental health needs. As an advocate, Richard played a major role in the development and passage of Proposition 63. Richard was a true mental health champion and embraced a wellness, recovery, and resilience approach to care for individuals with unmet mental health challenges. Through his leadership, Richard created opportunities in the community to transform California’s public mental health system into an integrated model of recovery and wellness-oriented services.

As for more than 30 years president and chief executive officer of Mental Health America, Los Angeles (MHALA), Richard dedicated his life to creating equitable opportunities for individuals and the community. He was instrumental in the success of Project Return as a self-advocacy program and in the Village, a novel, collaborative, integrated service approach that led to the incorporation of Full Service Partnerships in the MHSA model. He was a member of the board of the Mental Health Association of California, the California Institute for Mental Health (now the California Institute for Behavioral Health), the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, and the National Council for Community Behavioral Health. Richard was also a past member of the National Board of Directors of Mental Health America. On behalf of Mental Health America, he testified before the Congress of the United States regarding issues affecting people with mental illnesses.

A graduate of Harvard University, Richard also held a Masters of Divinity in Theology and was an ordained Episcopal priest, a role which led him to his calling in what was called a “social ministry,” and in turn to a lifetime of social and mental health advocacy.

Services will be held at Saint Mary’s Church, 961 S Mariposa Ave. in Los Angeles July 10 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in honor of Richard be made to Mental Health America.