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Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

About the MHSA

Forty years ago, the State of California shut down many state hospitals for people with severe mental illnesses. They did so without providing adequate funding for community mental health services. In 2004, former Assembly Member Darrel Steinberg, along with community advocates, including Cal Voices, proposed Proposition 63 (the Mental Health Services Act or MHSA). The MHSA levied a one percent income tax on personal incomes of over $1 million to fund. The purpose of this tax was to fund community based mental health systems and services in California. 


In November 2004, California voters passed Proposition 63.  It provided the first opportunity in many years to expand county mental health programs for all populations: children, transition-age youth, adults, older adults, families, and most especially, the un- and under-served. The Act creates a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention, innovative programs, services, and infrastructure, technology and training elements.

Prop 63 began as approximately 10% of the entire public mental health budget; it now comprises approximately 24%.

MHSA Quick Facts

  • Passed by voters in 2004

  • Places a one percent tax on incomes above $1 million

  • Provides funding for 

    • prevention and early intervention services

    • community based mental health services

    • stakeholder involvement

    • improvements in infrastructure, technology, and enhancement of the mental health workforce to support community based mental health services

MHSA Six General Standards

​Another unique aspect of the MHSA is the six General Standards counties are required to adopt when planning, implementing, and evaluating all programs funded by the MHSA. These General Standards apply to all MHSA-related activities, including the CPP process, development of Three Year Program and Expenditure Plans and annual updates to such Plans, and the manner in which counties deliver MHSA-funded services and evaluate such services. (9 CCR § 3320.)

​The MHSA's six General Standards are:​​

  1. Community Collaboration

  2. Cultural Competence

  3. Client-Driven

4. Family-Driven

5. Wellness, Recovery and Resilience Focused

6. Integrated Service Experience 

Click on each tab to learn more about each General Standard.


Community Collaboration

The process by which clients and/or families receiving services, other community members, agencies, organizations, and businesses work together to share information and resources in order to fulfill a shared vision and goals.

(9 CCR § 3200.060)

Stakeholder Involvement

Clients and community stakeholders rejoiced at the prospect of developing a client-driven mental health system responsive to the needs of the people it serves and accountable to the public.

The MHSA requires ongoing stakeholder input and involvement at all levels of the public mental health system (WIC § 5848(a)). Counties must involve key stakeholders at all levels of the public mental health system.


In the Community Program Planning (CPP) process counties must gather stakeholder input on policy development as well as all areas of programming, including:

  • planning

  • implementation

  • monitoring

  • quality improvement

  • evaluation

  • budget allocations

A county's CPP process must include all relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to:

  • mental health clients

  • family members of mental health clients

  • representatives from unserved, underserved, and inappropriately served populations

  • any other local stakeholders (9 CCR §§ 3200.070, 3300.)


Stakeholders help counties identify local-level needs and define MHSA funding priorities. through the CCP counties are better able to develop services and supports to meet the needs of those served by local mental health systems.


The MHSA requires counties to spend up to 5% of their annual MHSA revenues on planning costs. This allocation must include funds to pay for the costs of stakeholders to take part in the CPP process. (WIC § 5892(c); 9 CCR § 3300.

Dollar Notes

Follow the Money

California millionaires pay a 1% tax on all income over $1 million dollars

MHSA Funding Components

In addition to the 5% funding requirement for the CPP, counties must also use revenues for the following five components:

  • Community Services and Support (CSS)

  • Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI)

  • Innovation (INN)

  • Capital Facilities and Technological Needs (CFTN)

  • ​Workforce Education and Training (WET)

Click on a tab below to learn about each of these components. 


Prevention and Early Intervention

The PEI component funds programs designed to prevent mental illnesses from becoming severe and disabling, with an emphasis on improving timely access to services for underserved. `Counties must allocate at least 20% of their annual MHSA revenues to PEI programs.

(9 CCR § 3200.060)

Prudent Reserve

Counties must also establish and maintain a Prudent Reserve (PR) for revenue decreases. The PR is funded with monies allocated to the Community Services and Supports component and cannot exceed 33% of a county's average distribution for the previous five years.

Useful MHSA Reports and Documents

The following documents provide more information about the MHSA, including State of the Community Reports created by ACCESS. 

ACCESS State of the Community Reports
  • 2017-2018

  • 2018 - 2019

  • 2019 - 2020

  • Program Planning Guidelines

  • Stakeholder Bill of Rights

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