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How To Advocate
Get involved and make a difference in California's Public Mental Health System

Local Advocacy Guide: Introduction

In California, public mental health services are available to individuals who meet specific eligibility requirements. Adults in need of assistance must meet both income requirements and medical necessity requirements to receive public mental health services. These requirements are listed below. 

 

Income Requirements:

  • Persons with Medi-Cal or

  • Persons with low income (less than 200% of the federal poverty level) or no income, and no health insurance

Medical Necessity Requirements:

  • A diagnosable mental illness; and

  • Difficulty functioning in an important area of life-functioning, or the probability of significant deterioration in an important area of life; and

  • The expectation is that the proposed treatment will significantly reduce the problem or prevent significant deterioration in an important area of life-functioning; and

  • A condition that would not be responsive to physical health care based treatment

Local public mental health services are administered at the county level. There are three exceptions:

  1. Sutter and Yuba Counties administer a joint public mental health system for residents of both Counties

  2. The City of Berkeley administers its own public mental system for city residents, which is separate from the public mental health system administered by Alameda County

  3. Tri-Cities Mental Health Center administers its own public mental system for residents of Pomona, Claremont, and La Verne, which is separate from the public mental health system administered by Los Angeles County

 

Therefore, ​local mental health advocacy takes place in your home county or within the agency that administers public mental health services in the area where you live. Since the vast majority of public mental health services are administered by counties, this guide discusses how to advocate within a county-operated mental health system.

3. County Board of Supervisors

(or other governing body)

1. MHSA Community Program Planning (CPP) Process

2. Local Mental Health Board