California's Historic Effort to Reduce the Stigma of Mental Illness

The Mental Health Services Act

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 103, no. 5, May 2013, p. 786-794

Posted on on April 24, 2013

by Wayne Clark, Stephanie N. Welch, Sandra H. Berry, Ann M. Collentine, Rebecca L. Collins, Dorthy Lebron, Amy L. Shearer

Read More

Access further information on this document at American Journal of Public Health

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

In a historic effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness, California voters approved the Mental Health Services Act in 2004. The law funds a comprehensive statewide prevention initiative that places stigma and discrimination reduction at its center, with 25 projects providing interventions at the institutional, societal, and individual levels. Stakeholders selected specific strategies from the research-based California Strategic Plan on Reducing Stigma and Discrimination. Strategies range from social marketing to increase public knowledge to capacity building at the local level, including training that emphasizes participation by consumers of mental health services and cultural competence. Collectively, these strategies aim to foster permanent change in the public perception of mental illness and in the individual experience of stigma. We examined the context, planning, programming, and evaluation of this effort.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.