Strategic Plan

The Promise of the Mental Health Services Act

Supporting Transformational Change in Mental Health Care

An infographic shows potential partners and resources between private mental health systems, public mental health systems, and schools, employers, and communities
The MHSA voters approved in 2004 envisions a transformational change in mental health care. It gives the Commission the authority and responsibility for driving that change.

More than a funding stream, the Act seeks to counter the fragmentation and rationing of services and the narrow eligibility requirements that have frustrated efforts to develop effective and sustainable systems of care.

The Act requires counties to engage stakeholders – including those needing care and their families, other public agencies, and care providers – in designing services and defining desired outcomes.

The Act dedicates money for Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI). It provides funds to leverage resources from rigid entitlement programs. And, acknowledging the need for new strategies and solutions to solve “persistent, seemingly intractable mental health challenges,” it allocates resources for county-led innovation projects that have the potential to inspire widespread change.

To fulfill the Act’s broad vision, the Commission is active on many fronts. It seeks to engage other potential partners to advance scientific knowledge, help reduce the risk of trauma, aid in early identification of mental health needs, provide supportive housing and employment, and expand the services covered by employer-sponsored health care.

This holistic approach puts consumers and families at the center of decision-making. It prioritizes integrating activities across systems – from public health, education, and employment, to child welfare and public safety – to achieve the common goals of minimizing harm and maximizing well-being. It is a systems approach that connects data to develop a shared understanding, intelligent policies, and effective programs. Well-functioning systems coordinate funding, facilities, and staffing and learn by constantly evaluating and improving strategies and services.

Equally important, a holistic perspective illuminates the extraordinary opportunities offered by a public health approach that unites physical and behavioral health programs and features partnerships with schools, universities, and employers.

Read the full "Vision for Transformational Change: 2020-2023 Strategic Plan"