Promising results for California-wide Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Initiatives

An evaluation by the RAND Corporation shows promising results for the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)—a coalition of California counties— implementation of statewide initiatives to help reduce mental health stigma and discrimination, prevent suicide, and improve student mental health. Following are some highlights of the report, you can also read the full report here.

  • Social marketing campaigns were associated with reduced mental illness stigma and greater confidence to intervene with those at risk for suicide.
  • Trainings improved knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about mental illness, and made participants feel more prepared to help those in distress.
  • Online resources reached many and efforts to drive people to websites were key.
  • Collaborative partnerships influenced mental health– related policies in California.

CalMHSA PEI activities are funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).  It’s exciting to see the partnership and joint effort making a difference in promoting positive mental health outcomes across the state. However, the report also found that “without strategic and continued investment in statewide PEI programming, many of the gains associated with the larger initial investment are at risk of being lost.”

A few examples of CalMHSA programs and outcomes include:

15736-01-RSE14-Website-Redux-WorkDetail-EMM_02The “Each Mind Matters” stigma reduction campaign, which reached 1 in 4 California adults. Since the campaign’s inception, the stigma of mental illness has decreased in California: More Californians say they are willing to socialize with, live next door to, and work closely with people experiencing mental illness, and they report that they are providing greater social support to those with mental illness.

A cadre of Californians where trained to become trainers in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Cost-benefit analyses of ASIST showed that just one year of CalMHSA’s investment in creating this group of ASIST trainers is projected to prevent at least 3,600 suicide attempts and 140 deaths over the next 28 years.

The RAND Corporation evaluated CalMHSA’s PEI initiatives and provided evidence that CalMHSA successfully developed PEI resources and programs; reached large numbers of Californians; and improved the knowledge, attitudes, and intentions of those who were reached.