Social Workers are Leaders in California’s Mental Health Transformation

FEATURE mental health flyer pngBy Shirley Gentilini, MSW, LCSW

California’s social workers have long been champions for change in our state’s mental health system. Now, through the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), our state is improving access to prevention and early intervention mental health services and breaking down barriers to seeking help.

“Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement” unifies thousands of Californians in a call for inclusion and acceptance for people living with mental health challenges.

Prevention and Early Intervention in Action across California

Every day in our work, California’s social workers see how the neglect of mental health issues impacts individuals, families, and communities. That’s why we have long championed solutions that embrace people in need of help with support that can prevent the onset of mental illness or lessen the severity of the symptoms.

The voter-approved Mental Health Services Act of 2004 (Prop. 63) finally made these Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) investments possible on a statewide basis.

Through CalMHSA, an organization of county governments working together to implement statewide PEI strategies, California has:

  • Reached more than 820,000 Californians with crisis and early intervention services.


  • Trained nearly 125,000 individuals in prevention strategies.


  • Launched innovative social marketing campaigns that improve mental health awareness, inclusion, and equity from childhood through adulthood.


  • Created lasting systems change, including new standards for K-12 educators to have training to improve identification of at-risk students.


  • Enhanced local crisis hotline support by expanding language capacity, outreach and marketing, training and developing new crisis chat and text lines.


  • Pioneered culturally relevant best practices to serve the needs of California’s diverse communities.

Mental Health Matters Day

Join thousands from across California to come together in solidarity on May 13, 2014 to support this growing movement and raise awareness that mental health is an essential part of well-being.

At the State Capitol in Sacramento: thousands will converge for a march and rally to raise awareness that Mental Health matters. Join us at

Participate from anywhere in the state: Show your support with our social media tools and resources, and take the Each Mind Matters pledge here at

New Resources

California’s Mental Health Movement will grow stronger with our support. CalMHSA’s partners have developed host of new tools and resources that can be useful in our work to champion change.

Research shows one of the most effective ways to raise awareness and reduce stigma is through the face-to-face sharing of personal stories. Now you can find a speaker who can share their story of mental health challenges and stigma in a work, school or community organization. Find a speakers bureau near you at

Also, helps us find the words to say and the resources to reach out to for help in crisis.

Know a young person struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings? At young people can connect with others understand what they’re going through and offer support.

 Share these tips at: from Disability Rights California with your partners and colleagues through your coalitions or organizational communications.

 I hope you see you on May 13, 2014 for Mental Health Matters Day in Sacramento. Meanwhile, for more information visit, or email