Many individuals are not aware that publicly funded mental health services are available in their state. The Mental Health Services Act of 2004 and other laws have established a system of community programs that provide essential mental health services to people with serious mental health problems, so they can live in the least restrictive environments possible. However, it is not necessary to have these particular issues to benefit from public mental health programs in California. Approximately one in six people in California have mental health problems at some point in their life, and one in twenty-four has a serious mental health condition that affects their ability to function.
Most California county programs have an “access line” that people can call to request mental health services. While California funds mental health programs across the state, each county manages its own program separately. Income requirements vary, but California's community mental health programs often restrict services to people whose incomes represent 200% of the federal poverty level or less. All mental health programs in California counties provide crisis intervention services for people experiencing mental health emergencies. People seeking free or low-cost counseling often think that their only options are counselors in private offices and are unaware that publicly funded providers in their communities can also offer counseling services.
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another public mental health care option in California. To learn more about the available services, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website or social media channels. SAMHSA is a federal agency dedicated to leading public health and service delivery initiatives that promote mental health, prevent substance abuse and provide treatment and support to promote recovery, while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.