Since 1946, Cal Voices' core activities have focused on advocacy, outreach, education, and training initiatives designed to elevate the role of clients as primary stakeholders in the public mental health system. In all of our programs, we focus on engaging underserved communities traditionally underrepresented in mental health services. As such, our efforts include training stakeholders for local and statewide advocacy, employment in the mental health system, and capacity building services for client members of local boards and commissions; all while reducing the pervasive and insidious stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions.
Cal Voices’ primary imperative is to represent the self-identified needs and priorities of public mental health clients through culturally-relevant and recovery-focused advocacy, outreach, and education. For nearly three decades, we have employed systems advocates to promote change from within local mental health agencies and have advanced individual empowerment and self-advocacy for mental health clients through the direct provision of peer support services rooted in the recovery model of care. Cal Voices strongly advocated for California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA or Prop. 63), investing hundreds of staff and volunteer hours to promote its passage. In all of our activities, we seek to elevate the voices of clients receiving public mental health services.
We support evidence-based practices, such as peer support, in a recovery-based system:
“Whether it's villagers in Uganda, farmers who have just moved to large cities in China, middle-class retirees in England, or patients of a large provider system in the US, we all benefit from feeling understood by someone who has “walked in my shoes.” We learn from each other and live healthier lives.”
- Edwin B. Fisher, Ph.D., (Global Evidence for Peer Support: Humanizing Health Care)
Cal Voices' effective advocacy efforts have been demonstrated both locally and on a statewide basis. Our statewide advocacy activities are rooted in the grassroots local and regional communities where we work daily engaging with clients across the lifespan regarding their needs, access to care issues, the level of cultural appropriateness of services, and their journeys towards wellness/recovery and resilience.
Currently, we operate Consumer Advocacy/Liaison programs imbedded in Sacramento County. Since 1997, Cal Voices has provided consumer advocacy/liaison services to local counties and stakeholders, serving as a conduit between government entities and the mental health clients they serve. To promote and amplify the client voice, Cal Voices hosts several annual conferences, such as the Peer Empowerment Conference (formerly Consumer Speaks) in Sacramento County, respectively. Cal Voices' advocates/liaisons also serve on local management teams in county behavioral health departments to elevate the role of clients in all aspects of public mental health program and policy development. Furthermore, our advocacy/liaison programs actively involve the grassroots communities across the lifespan, regularly assessing the local needs of stakeholders by convening ongoing expert pool groups, consumer council meetings, members’ meetings, and peer speaker’s bureaus.
While we are excited about the passage of SB 803 (peer certification), it is important that we continue to advocate for a tailored comprehensive curriculum to serve consumers in specific populations (transition age, adult, parent, or family) by peers in specific populations. Our launch of the California Association of Peer Professionals has created another opportunity to further enhance and support the Peer Support Specialist workforce in California.
If you would like to get involved in advocacy in your local community or on a statewide level, check out ACCESS California: