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Mental Health Division
Mental Health Division

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Detailed Summary


The stated purpose of the Mental Health Services Act is to "expand mental health services" in California. Funds may not be used to supplant existing state or local funds that are currently directed toward public mental health services.

Effective Date

The Mental Health Services Act became effective January 1, 2005. That means that the additional taxes raised by the Act began to be collected on that date. The taxes raised by the Act are deposited in a new Mental Health Services Fund on a monthly basis.

Authorizing Regulations

The California Department of Mental Health (DMH) shall adopt, "as necessary," Emergency Regulations to implement the Act. These regulations are developed with the "maximum feasible opportunity for public participation and comments."

Distribution of Funds

Fiscal Year 2004-05:

FY 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08:

Any Year After 2007-08:

Programs for services to children, adults and older adults may include funds for technological needs, capital facilities, and human resource needs, and a prudent reserve to ensure that services do not have to be significantly reduced in years in which revenues are below the average of previous years. However, there will no longer be a prescribed percentage of the funds that must go to these categories.

City and County Plans - Requirements and Process

Each year the Department of Mental Health will inform cities and counties of the amount of funds available. Each city or county mental health program (or two or more cities/counties acting jointly) must prepare and submit to DMH (after review and comment by the Oversight and Accountability Commission, and review and comment from local stakeholders) a three-year expenditure plan, updated at least annually.

DMH will establish requirements for the content of the plans, including reports on the achievement of performance outcomes. However, each plan must include the following:

  • A program for Prevention and Early Intervention;
  • A program for services to children based upon the System of Care model, including a program for wraparound services, the number of children to be served, and the cost per child;
  • A program for services to adults and older adults based on the System of Care model, including the number of adults and older adults to be served, and the cost per person;
  • A plan for Innovative Programs;
  • A program for Technological Needs and Capital Facilities needed to provide the services.  Identification of shortages in personnel to provide services pursuant to the plan, and assistance needed from the Education and Training Programs fund;
  • Establishment and maintenance of a prudent reserve to ensure that the county program will continue to be able to serve children, adults and older adults during years in which revenues for the Mental Health Services Fund are below recent averages; and
  • The programs must also address the needs of transition age youth.

Each plan and update must be developed with local stakeholders, including adults and older adults with severe mental illness, families of children, providers of services, law enforcement agencies, education, social services agencies and other important stakeholders.

A draft plan and update must be prepared and circulated for review and comment for at least 30 days to representatives of stakeholder interests and any interested party who has requested a copy of the plan.

Each city or county's mental health board must conduct a public hearing on the draft plan and annual updates at the close of the 30-day comment period.

Each plan and update adopted by a city or county must include any substantive written recommendations for revisions, and summarize and analyze the recommended revisions.

Needs Assessment Process - Berkeley and Albany

Berkeley Mental Health and the Mental Health Commission conducted a series of public hearings, town hall meetings and focus groups with service providers, service consumers, law enforcement, schools, business associations, neighborhood associations, and other stakeholders to gather information on gaps in mental health services.  This information was crucial in the development of the MHSA Community Supports and Services Plan.

DMH Review Process:

DMH will evaluate each proposed expenditure plan and:

  • Determine the extent to which each city or county has the capacity to serve the proposed number of children, adults and older adults;
  • Determine the extent to which there is an unmet need to serve those individuals;
  • Determine the amount of available funds;
  • Provide each city and county with an allocation from the funds available.

DMH will then contract for the provision of these services with "each city or county mental health program" through the Performance Contract process.

To get involved or for more information, contact Karen Klatt at (510) 981-7644.


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Mental Health Division, 2640 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: mentalhealth@cityofberkeley.info Phone: (510) 981-5290
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903