Proposition 63 (or the Mental Health Services Act – MHSA) was passed by the voters of California in 2004 to add a one percent tax on personal incomes over a million dollars.
While millionaires only represent about 1/10 of one percent of California’s population these people earn almost half of all the taxable income. This means that the tax generates between $1 and $2 billion per year. These funds can only be spent on programs to serve the mental health community.
Besides securing a long term funding source for mental health programs in California, another purpose of the MHSA was to transform the mental health system into one which was focused on prevention and early intervention (PEI), and a system that values and uses the recovery model. For youth and young adults, PEI means recognizing a mental illness early, before it begins to negatively impact a person’s life, school, work, etc. The recovery model enforces the idea that people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness can lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives.
Simply said, their mental health challenge is part of their story — it is not who they are.
The MHSA and Advocacy
Mental health in California is structured with a checks and balance system, leaving the counties to plan and run programs, and the state to look over the process. In this system, virtually all of the MHSA money is allocated to California’s 58 counties. Then, as part of creating effective programs, each county must have meetings to gather ideas, information, and input from their community about what mental health services that community needs – this is called the County MHSA Planning Process. This is the chance for TAY to have their voices heard, and to help counties create programs that youth say work!
Once each county has talked to all the different groups or people (often called stakeholders) in their community, the county staff write the plan for how the MHSA money will be spent. These plans are then sent to the state for review and approval. CAYEN is active at the state level to ensure that counties are including the TAY voice in community planning and that services that young people say work are being identified and put into practice. CAYEN also encourages all young people to get involved in their county planning process to make sure the TAY voice is incorporated into the writing of county plans.