Mental Health Services in the State of California


This paper will discuss mental health services in California and will show how the government, on a state level is failing to provide funding to keep mental health facilities operating. It will also tackle some of the issues affecting the mental health sector. Due to many California State run facilities closing down, who is providing care, treatment and medication to our mentally handicapped citizens? Why are our mental health patients living on the streets? It is clear that the government is failing in the provision of quality mental health care. This is a very sad situation and its time for the government to wake up and take good care of its citizens.


The use of mental health disability as a substitute for lasting inability to a parent lacks both theoretical and practical justification. The provision of the law of reunification bypass allows States such as California to deny a mentally challenged parent the usual one year of visitation, social services, and casework. In the opinion of an expert, a parent who has a mental health disability is incapable of parenting adequately, and he or she cannot use such services, for example, visitations. The reunification law came into action in 1986, from that moment onwards, the courts of the U. S. have expanded and certified the law, whilst demonstrating either unwillingness, or lacking the ability to weigh significantly the psychological proof it requires. As a result, this law may not help the children, but instead it brands the parents as failures even before they get a chance to demonstrate their capabilities. There is a big crisis in the way California provides mental health services to the youth and children with disabilities or mental health difficulties. The unpublicized and discouraging reality is that the state of California lacks an efficient service delivery structure for the provision of psychological or mental health services (Howard, & Jeffrey, 2009).

Problems with mental health services in California

Unreliable data

Information drives policy and is the foundation for a huge number of important decisions related to employment and budgets. In order for the state to make proper economic decisions, improve the system, and distribute resources effectively, conformity on the population intended to receive the service is vital. Presently, there is very little consistency in data collection methods across the country (Cohen and Pfeifer). The enormous disparity in the way information on mental health cases that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation receives, demonstrates the lack of adequate data. For example, one county defined mental health matters as those young people taking psychotropic medications. Whilst another county defined it as, any person who is involved in the mental health system or takes psychotropic medications. Inn addition, some counties defined mental health issues to be any person who has had a professional of mental health service become involved past initial assessment. Consequently, there is enormous discrepancy in the way they count the people receiving treatment, and how they define open mental health issues. It is important to note that the uncertainty in the primary numbers may guide the policymakers to flawed conclusions, and hence to ill-informed policies (Elaine, 2007).

Philosophical differences

One of the main barriers to agreement around practical definitions is a philosophical discussion over the criteria for the diagnosis of mental health problems. At the center of the matter, are rival beliefs concerning what comprises a mental health diagnosis? Some have the belief that behavioral or habitual problems such as oppositional rebellious disorder and conduct disorder indicates diagnosable illnesses, therefore, these are mental health matters. Others believe that many behavioral or habitual problems are normal. For those people who challenge that behavioral troubles are mental health matters, the following categories apply; conduct disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, major depression, anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. Others are on the opinion that behavioral disorders should be in mental health diagnoses (Duncan, 1996).


The state should develop collective, practical definitions of open mental health cases to correlate diagnoses with suitable levels of treatment. In addition, practical health definitions should contain a range of DSM-IV diagnoses, together with a matching menu of possible treatment opinions, and considering the severity of the mental problem. Another important factor is to address inconsistencies in the collection and reporting data concerning mental health cases. To improve the state of the delivery of mental health services California must define population that needs these services in a standardized and accurate way. Functional mental health cases definitions should correspond to the different points on the range of care for all the systems serving people with mental health problems. This would make it possible to increase consistency in the treatment, identification and placement of people across systems (Elaine, 2007).

Impacts of budget cuts

The mental health financial plan of the state of California consists of a connection of different financial supports. In general, the mental health financial plan contains shift funds dedicated to finances based on a part of the federal funds, and state sales tax that the state of California plans for other services and programs. For example, pilot project finances contain state allotments to counties to institute systems of medical care. Counties also obtain a categorical allotment to provide mental health services. Finally, there are private insurance that provide a means for access to mental health care, but the funds do not relieve the county mental health sections from their duty to deliver services required (Finch, 2011).

The writers of state budget have stripped a cumulative 1.8 billion dollars from mental health sector over the last two and a half years. This obviously puts the public at great danger as the mentally ill patients often crowd prisons and emergency rooms. Between 2008 and now, about thirty-two states including California, have cut funding for mental health services. California slashed mental health funding by about six hundred million dollars. These budget cuts leaves the mental health sector with little to offer, for example, without proper funding there would be inadequate staffing and unavailability of treatment thus leaving countless people without proper care. Mental health supporters are hopeful that the overhaul of the federal health care that will take effect after 2014 will assist in adding services for the mental illness. Unfortunately, their hopes are not bright because things do not seem to be getting any better (Janet, 2010).

Inadequacy on the provision of mental health services

Despite what people know in the research writings about efficient mental health treatment, trying to translate this knowledge into action has not been simple for practitioners and legislators. According to a survey carried out in 2005 by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, found out that mental health cases are the solitary most serious gap in juvenile justice sector. Furthermore, the survey showed that the number of youth with mental health troubles continues to rise, as well as the severity of their mental cases. The state of California spends about ten million dollars every to house youth without cause in the detention facilities. In some cases, the detainees may have no criminal charges, but the detention is because of the mental health services, which may not be available in the community. This shortage of mental health experts is a nationwide crisis and the United States government should look into the matter carefully. Spanish-speaking and Latino people experience the scarcity of mental health personnel most acutely, this is because the demand is very high, and resources are inadequate. In addition, people under court order to obtain mental health services in the community often struggle to access the treatment because of inadequate facilities and staffing. This absence of good mental health services both in the community and in the custodial settings has a disturbing effect on the people who need these services. The government should carefully look into this matter of inadequacy (Elaine, 2007).


The state can improve the availability of mental health services by enhancing the collaboration between all stakeholders such as community-based organizations and other agencies. This will create a wide network of services and resources. In addition, collaborating with local colleges or universities the state may address the issue of staffing and improve service delivery. For example, if students need to acquire training hours, then the state should tap into their services. In taking this cause of action, many people will not have a big problem trying to access mental health services. The state also, should work on establishing cross-county partnerships, the assessment tools may be very costly, but, if there is a cross-county partnership, then they may afford them. The California state should execute mental health programs based on outcomes disregarding the setting (Howard, & Jeffrey, 2009).


This paper has discussed the mental health services in California and has shown how the government, on a state level is failing to provide funding to keep mental health facilities operating, and other issues affecting the sector. The mental health services stakeholders should provide training and outreach programs to parents, teachers, school administrators, providers of mental health service, and the juvenile justice personnel. This will improve the perspective of the community towards this sector. It is important for the state and the U. S. government to revisit the current funding system, and examine the potential for acquiring finances among agencies. Furthermore, the state should identify the existing economic barriers and try to overcome them, because this is the first step in determining what different money models would be efficient for flawless service delivery and provision of the full range of services for mental health needs. It is very important that the people stay safe and healthy.


Duncan, B. (1996). Providing Quality Services to Emotionally Disturbed Students and Their Families in California: Recommended Program Standards for Community-Based. Programs. Sacramento, CA: Resources in Special Education, California Department of Education.

Elaine E., (2007). The future of mental health in California: A policy analysis of the Mental Health Services Long Beach: California State University.

Finch, J., (2011). Valuating mental health services for older people. New York: Radcliffe Publishing.

Howard, H. & Jeffrey B., (2009). Transforming Mental Health Services: Implementing the Federal Agenda. Chicago: American Psychiatric Pub.

Janet, H. (2010). Mental Health Services: Effectiveness of Insurance Coverage and Federal Programs for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma Largely. Wadsworth: cengage.