Modernizing the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)  

On March 19th, Governor Newsom unveiled a new plan to re-envision behavioral health system investments to address homelessness and focus services on individuals living with the most severe behavioral health conditions. Current available information on the Governor’s plan can be found here:  One of the three priorities of this plan, is the “Modernizing of MHSA” and includes proposals to:  

1) Update the current MHSA funding allocation or components – the plan proposes to allocate MHSA funding to three new components: 30% to housing, 35% to Full Service Partnerships, and 35% to all other MHSA services (e.g., workforce strategies, prevention and early intervention, systems development efforts, etc.) with a focus on on-site services to students; workforce development, recruitment and retention; and the inclusion of substance use disorders as a target population – currently the MHSA targets co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. 

2) Add fiscal accountability measures – the plan focuses on the maximizing of Medi-Cal for reimbursable services and MHSA being the “last dollar spent” and on broader regional community planning processes. 

3) Restructure the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) – the MHSOAC is proposed to be moved under the California Health and Human Services Agency to support increased cross-sector collaboration and a focus on outcomes.  The MHSOAC was originally created to provide oversight of the MHSA.  The Governor’s plan is likely to go on the November 2024 ballot and will take time to implement. California counties and local stakeholders have an opportunity to influence the details of the reform.  BHRS will be working closely with the California Behavioral Health Director’s Association (CBHDA) to ensure local stakeholder priorities are voiced and include the original intent of the MHSA as it relates to prevention and early intervention, cultural responsiveness and equitable access, system transformations and other core MHSA priorities. 

Written by Doris Estremera (she/her), Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Manager