The Impact of California Mental Health Policy

Mental illness is a crisis in the nation resulting in homelessness, joblessness, and imprisonment. The lack of resources and services continues to be a problem that prevents individuals affected from living healthy and fulfilled lives. Although there have been numerous federal and state mandates, including the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion, the issue remains. In California, the Mental Health Parity Act of 1999 and the Mental Health Services Act passed in 2004 have made some progress in addressing the needs of adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbances, but the efforts have not been sufficient. This study aimed to examine mental health policy in California and the effects of not adequately addressing the problem. Historical mental health policy in the United States was addressed for contextual purposes. The findings of the review revealed that there have been various mental health policies implemented in California. However, none has been sufficient to address the needs of individuals living with serious mental illness, thus resulting in homelessness and incarceration. The study provides the foundation for greater knowledge of mental health policy in California and a basis for evaluating the effects of the state's inadequate policy, specifically homelessness and incarceration.

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