Role of California Mental Health Planning Council

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.
  • School-to-career strategies.
  • Job retraining for the existing workforce.
  • Licensing boards and professional recruitment
  • Rural strategies.
  • Community redefinition, corporate partnerships and collaboration.

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 include:

  • Created an Integrated Dual Diagnosis Curriculum Development process.
  • 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: Resource Materials.”
  • 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 health system

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.