It's all about meaningful stakeholder involvement
Advocacy isn't just something ACCESS does. It's one of our program's core values. So what is advocacy supposed to look like under the MHSA?
The MHSA requires meaningful and ongoing stakeholder involvement in public mental health program planning, development, oversight, implementation, services delivery, and evaluation.
Without authentic stakeholder involvement, the MHSA’s critical mandates remain impotent and render system transformation an unfulfilled promise. Even when clients are actively engaged in MHSA stakeholder processes, they often lack essential knowledge of system navigation, budget allocations, integrated service delivery, and funding streams. Without this understanding, clients are unable to make meaningful contributions to program planning, development, implementation, and oversight functions in California's Public Mental Health System (PMHS).
Meaningful stakeholder involvement requires an investment in training and education for community members. Counties may allocate up to 5% of their total annual MHSA fund for the Community Program Planning Process (WIC § 5892(c); 9 CCR § 3300(d)). Yet, since the closing of the State Department of Mental Health, few Counties have actually invested this funding into their planning efforts, or provided resources related to training of clients, family members, and underserved communities about the Public Mental Health System’s inner workings.
Advocacy means meaningful stakeholder participation in the PMHS. This requires Counties to actively solicit community feedback prior to making programming decisions and expand opportunities for meaningful ongoing client involvement in MHSA program creation, development, planning, services delivery, oversight, and evaluation (WIC § 5848(a); 9 CCR §§ 3200.070, 3300, 3310). Client inclusion must be expanded at all levels within the PMHS, from the time MHSA-funded programs are conceived, through their implementation, and in the continuous assessment of outcomes from such programs.