Overview - Los Angeles County

In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, which became state law in January 2005 as the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The MHSA is thought by many to be the most significant mental health legislation in California over the last 20-30 years because it aims to support new and innovative mental health services that are evidence-based and adapted to fit a particular community’s culture, needs, and stakeholder input.

The California Department of Mental Health has defined five components to the MHSA:

  • Community Services and Supports
  • Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Workforce Education and Training
  • Capital Facilities and Technology
  • Innovative Programs

The Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) component of the MHSA covers services which address risk factors prior to developing mental illness and early symptoms of mental illness when it does develop. As such, some PEI programs may focus on preventing disorders while others may seek to inhibit the progression of a disorder as soon as possible. The state guidelines designated priority populations for the PEI component that have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to mental illness and/or at risk of not receiving mental health services due to social, economic, or cultural barriers:

  • Underserved Cultural Populations
  • Individuals Experiencing Onset of Serious Psychiatric Illness
  • Children/Youth in Stressed Families
  • Trauma-exposed
  • Children/Youth at Risk for School Failure
  • Children/Youth at Risk of or Experiencing Juvenile Justice Involvement

Additionally, the state has highlighted five key community mental health needs for the state:

  • Disparities in Access to Mental Health Services
  • Psycho-social Impact of Trauma
  • At-risk Children, Youth, and Young Adult Populations
  • Stigma and Discrimination
  • Suicide Risk