Mental Health Spending Transparency Improved by Community Input


County Mental Health Spending Highlighted in Mental Health Commission’s updated Fiscal Transparency Dashboard

SACRAMENTO – Today, California’s Mental Health Commission released an updated Fiscal Transparency Dashboard within its Fiscal Transparency Suite, intended to support public engagement in the community planning process, by assisting the public to better understand Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) revenues in their county and statewide.

The Fiscal Transparency Suite shows members of the public revenues, expenditures, and unspent funds for each of the MHSA components, for each county, as well as statewide information, for each fiscal year. Users can also download the data for themselves.

First released in 2017, the Fiscal Transparency Suite is part of the Commission’s dedicated efforts to improving transparency around mental health funding, programming, and outcomes. In 2019, updates to the Fiscal Transparency Dashboard were suspended to address concerns that the design of the tool did not accurately reflect the fiscal realities facing counties.

The Commission worked in partnership with consumers, counties, and other community members, seeking input through virtual forums and interviews to understand how the tool could be better designed to support public awareness and understanding of mental health outcomes, priorities, programs, and services across California.

Former Commission Chair Lynne Ashbeck facilitated discussions with county behavioral health leaders to improve the clarity of the data, and to better understand county concerns about how to best present data to help the public more easily understand it. Commission staff also worked with the Department of Health Care Services to address anomalies in the data and to resolve differences in interpreting the data.

The improved Fiscal Transparency Dashboard released today includes up-to-date data and new user interface, changes informed by consumers, counties, and community members.

“The Transparency Suite is really a tool to inform local conversations with the community,” said Commission Chair Mara Madrigal-Weiss. “I’m pleased to present Californians with a tool to share data and continue to improve wellbeing.”

The Fiscal Transparency Dashboard is one of several data visualization tools that make up the Commission’s Transparency Suite. The MHSA calls for county behavioral health departments to engage the public in a community planning process; the Commission’s Transparency Suite is intended to support that planning process by assisting the public to understand MHSA revenues. Other dashboards within the suite provide visualizations on data for criminal justice involvement, full service partnerships, disparities in mental health care access, and more.

View and interact with the updated dashboard here.

About the Commission
In enacting Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, California voters in 2014 created and charged the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission with the responsibility of driving transformational change in public and private mental health systems to achieve the vision that everyone who needs mental health care has access to and receives effective and culturally competent care. The Commission was design to empower stakeholders, with members representing consumers and their families, service providers, law enforcement, educators, and employers. The Commission puts consumers and families at the center of decision-making. The Commission promotes community collaboration, cultural competency, and integrated service delivery. The Commission is committed to wellness and recovery, using its authorities, resources, and passion to reduce the negative outcomes of mental illness and promote the mental health and wellbeing of all Californians.