The California MHSA


California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), passed as Proposition 63 in 2004, and effective January 1, 2005, established the Mental Health Services Fund (MHSF). The MHSA is an act in California that provides funding, personnel, and resources to support county mental health programs. It also monitors the goal-oriented, mental health progress of children, youth, adults, the elderly, and families. With the passage of the initiative, earnings of more than $1 million are subject to a 1% tax on personal income to provide funding for mental health services and programs.

The purpose of Proposition 63 is not only to attend to individuals with serious mental illness, but to also reduce the impact of untreated serious mental illness on individuals, families, and state and local budgets. Expansion of innovative and successful service delivery programs are carried out, which includes accomplished approaches for underserved populations. Not only is the available state funds’ intent to provide services not covered by insurance or federally sponsored programs, but to also ensure that expenditures are cost-effective, and that provided services are following recommended best practices.

Revenue generated from the 1% tax is deposited into the MHSF annually. The 2017–18 Governor’s Budget indicates approximately $1.807 billion was deposited into the MHSF in FY 2015–16. The 2017–18 Governor’s Budget also projects that $1.864 billion will be deposited into the MHSF in FY 2016–17, and $1.888 billion will be deposited into the MHSF in FY 2017–18. To see additional budget details, the Mental Health Services Act Expenditure Report – Governor’s Budget for the current year is available on the California Department of Health Care Services' website at 

The MHSA addresses a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention, and service needs as well as providing funding for infrastructure, technology, and training for the community mental health system. The MHSA specifies five required components: 

  • CSS (Community Services and Supports) involves the funding of direct services to individuals with severe mental illness.
  • CFTN (Capital Facilities and Technological Needs) makes provision for building projects and improvement of mental health services delivery by increasing technological capacity through funding.
  • WET (Workforce, Education, and Training) includes providing funds to improve the capacity of the mental health workforce.
  • PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) serves to allocate investment of 20% of the MHSA funding of outreach programs for families and providers to recognize early signs of mental illness.
  • INN (Innovation) involves the funding and evaluation of new approaches to increase access to underserved communities, promotion of interagency collaboration, and increasing the overall quality of mental health services.

Additionally, California has developed a set of guiding principles that are the benchmark for the implementation of the MHSA Community and Supports component, which is tasked with changing the existing public mental health system via:

  • Consumer and Family Participation and Involvement
  • Programs and Services
  • Age-Specific Needs
  • Community Partnership
  • Cultural Competence
  • Outcomes and Accountability
  • Taking a Comprehensive Viewpoint

The MHSA strives to reach broadly into all California communities to address a breadth of public mental health concerns. To learn more about the California Mental Health Services Act, please visit the resources below. 

References and Resources:

NAMI California - 2016 MHSA County Programs: Services That Change Lives

Steinberg Institute Report - Mental Health Services Act Changes Lives, Saves Money

MHSA Resources Clearinghouse - Resources for Supporting California MHSA Innovation and Prevention and Early Intervention Programs

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

Mental Health Services Act Expenditure Report – Governor’s Budget Fiscal Year 2017-18

Mental Health Services Act - Components