Strategic Plan

Accelerating Transformational Change: 2024-2027

Accelerating Transformational Change

California’s future as a prosperous, compassionate and healthy state is increasingly linked with the behavioral health and wellbeing of all of its residents.

This reality motivated the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission when it advocated for and launched the Mental Health Student Services Act, worked with pioneering counties to elevate early psychosis intervention, and promoted universal access to youth drop-in centers.

Similarly, the Commission worked with communities to improve Full-Service Partnerships, coordinate crisis response, and developed a state suicide prevention plan – strategies that can reduce incarceration, hospitalization and homelessness.

These initiatives demonstrate the possibilities, the imperative to develop comprehensive systems of care essential to reducing disparities in access to culturally competent services and promoting recovery and wellbeing for all.

This strategic plan sharply focuses the Commission on accelerating the adoption of these individual services and integrating them into complete community-based behavioral health systems that provide early, integrated and tailored services to everyone.

This “North Star” priority will be pursued by four foundational actions animated in the plan’s goals:

  1. Champion vision into action so policymakers and the public understand and support the development of effective services and supports to reduce personal suffering and the heartbreaking consequences of unmet mental health needs.
  2. Catalyze best practice networks to ensure access, improve outcomes and reduce disparities to close the gap between what can be done and what is being done.
  3. Inspire innovation and learning to close the gap between what can be done and what must be done.
  4. Relentlessly drive expectations in ways that reduce stigma, build empathy, and empower the public to drive accountability for outcomes.

A diagram shows how four strategic goals interact. There are four goals: 1. Champion vision into action to increase public understanding of services that address unmet mental health needs. 2. Catalyze best practice networks to ensure access, improve outcomes, and reduce disparities. 3. Inspire innovation and learning to close the gap between what can be done and what must be done. 4. Relentlessly drive expectations in ways that reduce stigma, build empathy, and empower the public. The diagram is designed such that goals 1, 2, and 3 feed into goal 4, and goal 4 feeds into goals 1, 2, and 3. Additionally, goal 1 points to goal 2 and goal 2 points to goal 3.


A Point of Inflection

The behavioral health service system in California is at a threshold, defined by growing public needs, awareness and empathy; by powerful new knowledge and promising practices; and, by the imperative to better serve those with serious and chronic conditions while striving to prevent and intervene early to preserve and nurture health and wellbeing.

Californians are experiencing a mental health and substance abuse epidemic, made increasingly acute by a global pandemic, a strained workforce, and diminished social safety nets for communities that need them most.

The Governor and Legislature have recognized this imperative in launching initiatives such as the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative and in developing revisions to the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) that will go before voters for their approval on the March 2024 ballot.

There has never been more funding and momentum to drive transformational change, or such significant opportunities to advance new innovations in behavioral health treatment and delivery models. Still, more work is required to build the vibrant  system that the MHSA envisions.

To develop this Strategic Plan, the Commission consulted with numerous communities and multiple partners, reflected on the progress that has been made and identified the right next steps for advancing transformational change. 

The priorities and goals defined in this plan build upon the Commission’s charge, its demonstrated capacity to drive improvements, and its stewardship of the MHSA’s core values of person-centered and culturally competent care; of prevention, early intervention and innovation, and of collaboration across agencies and communities to reduce inequities and disparities – all of which endure regardless of the March ballot results.

Meaningful Progress

By enacting the MHSA in 2004, voters made a foundational commitment to fund and transform California’s mental health system of supports and services. To advance these commitments, the Commission in recent years has partnered with communities, other public agencies, and the private sector to identify critical gaps in the service system and directed technical assistance and resources to encourage a more proactive and comprehensive approach.

To accelerate learning and adaptation, the Commission worked with counties to invest $800 million in MHSA innovation funds and provided more than $400 million in incentive grants.

The Commission grew the state’s Early Psychosis Intervention Plus programs, rapidly deployed some $150 million statewide to support mental health wellness programs in schools, developed a state prevention and early intervention framework and voluntary standards for workplace mental health, and empowered the advocacy efforts in eight underserved communities.

The Commission worked with counties to strengthen the wrap-around support of Full Service Partnerships, improve crisis response, and reduce avoidable incarceration. It developed and began the implementation of a state suicide prevention strategy and re-prioritized $2.2 million to address disparities and fortify youth suicide prevention efforts.

Through all of these efforts, the Commission worked with its partners to raise awareness and elevate expectations for a maturing mental health system focused on prevention, recovery and resilience in all communities.

Read the full "Vision for Accelerating Transformational Change: 2024-2027 Strategic Plan"