Since the 1960s California has had a statewide advisory board
operating independently from the State Department of Mental
Health to provide public input into mental health policy
development and planning. The current entity, the California
Mental Health Planning Council, was established in state statute
in 1993 in response to the realignment of mental health program
responsibility and funding. The Planning Council was designed to
be an appropriate structure for public input, planning, and
evaluation under realigned mental health programs.
The Planning Council is mandated by federal and state statute to
advocate for children with serious emotional disturbances and
adults and older adults with serious mental illness; to provide
oversight and accountability for the public mental health system;
and to advise the Administration and the Legislature on priority
issues and participate in statewide planning.
Working with the California Department of Mental Health (DMH),
the California Mental Health Directors Association (CMHDA) and
other stakeholders, the Planning Council convened a Human
Resources Summit in March 2000. Through a collaborative process,
key decision-makers identified the following areas of focus in
addressing workforce shortages:
Increased capacity of the post secondary education level.
Work readiness in the classroom.
Multilingual and multicultural pipeline strategies.
Job retraining for the existing workforce.
Licensing boards and professional recruitment
Community redefinition, corporate partnerships and
In 2000 the California Mental Health Planning Council’s Human
Resource Project was established to implement the action plan
resulting from the 2000 Human Resources Summit. The overall
mission of the Human Resource Project is to increase the mental
health workforce and to increase its cultural competence and
diversity. Diversity is defined very broadly to include
ethnicity, language, gender, age, and clients and family members.
The Planning Council’s work and accomplishments have helped
inform current DMH Workforce Education & Training strategies. A
sample of accomplishments and projects in recent years
Created an Integrated Dual Diagnosis Curriculum Development
Published a guide entitled, “A Guide for Developing Mental
Health Components in High School Academies.”
Produced a report entitled, “Consumer and Family Member
Employment in the Public Mental Health System.”
Collected data on vacancy rates among 22 occupations working
within the public mental health system.
Researched the capacity of the educational system to train
professionals and paraprofessionals for work within the public
mental health system.
Convened a workgroup to address the shortage of nursing
professionals and expand the utilization of psychiatric nurse
practitioners in California, publishing “Expanding the Use of
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners in Behavioral Health Settings:
Convened a series of focus groups with multicultural social
workers from various agencies, including mental health, social
services, and alcohol and drug, to determine how to make mental
health occupations and academic programs more attractive to
bilingual and bicultural students, and produced a summary report
of recommendations for schools of social work and the mental
As outlined in the Mental Health Services Act, the Planning
Council advises DMH on education and training policy development
and provides oversight of the MHSA Workforce Education and
Training plan development.