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

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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.

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