Recommendations to improve oversight of MHSA Funds and ensure they reach people with serious mental illness

The California State Auditor found the Oversight Commissioner failed to provide oversight of how Proposition 63 funds are spent, and therefore there is no way to know if they are spent effectively. A report by Mental Illness Policy Org found billions were diverted to social service programs that masqueraded as mental health programs leaving people with serious mental illness underserved. Following are the recommendations from that report on how to fix the problem.

1. Focus Programs on those voters intended: people with the most serious mental illnesses

  • Require counties to report and monitor MHSA expenditures by diagnosis.
  • Eliminate all regulations and guidance that diverted MHSA funds to people without mental illness and inform counties they are no longer operative.
  • Eliminate funding of programs that falsely claim they prevent serious mental illness
  • Eliminate funding of programs that refuse to accept people with serious mental illness
  • Define “Underserved Populations” by diagnosis and severity of their mental illness.
  • Eliminate spending on PR, TV shows, PSAs (“Universal Prevention Activities”) and spend the money saved on helping people with serious mental illness
  • Expand programs that existed prior to Prop 63 that successfully treated people with serious mental illness.
  • Require Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) funds to be spent, as legislatively required, on ‘preventing mental illness from becoming severe and disabling”, not ‘preventing mental illness’ (since no one knows how to prevent serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.)
  • Eliminate funding of organizations that do not believe mental illness exists or lobby–even with non-MHSA funds–against treatment for those who are so sick they do not recognize their need for treatment.
  • Eliminate the ability of County Behavioral Health Directors to lead or follow a stakeholder process that perverts and circumvents intent of legislation. (i.e., use science based rules rather than mob rules to distribute funds)

2. Replace the Oversight Commissioners who failed. Prohbit recipients of MHSA funds from serving as Oversight

  • The state auditor found the current MHSOAC commissioners failed to carry out their responsiblity to provide oversight. Therefore Governor Brown and the other leaders who get to appoint commissioners should replace their commissioners with new ones.
  • Individuals responsible for distributing or receiving MHSA funds should not be allowed on oversight committees because they have a conflict of interest.
  • Prohibit Insider Dealing: No funds should go to programs associated now, or within the last five years with board members of the Oversight Commission.
  • Increase percentage of criminal justice representatives on Oversight Commission because they know what community services are needed to prevent arrest and incarceration of the most seriously ill
  • Increase representation from inpatient psychiatric hospitals on oversight commission as they know what community services are needed to prevent rehospitalization of the most seriously ill

3. Use legislative and legal process to further voter intent, rather than divert funds to non related programs

  • Pass legislation to clarify that individuals under Laura’s Law are eligible for MHSA supported services.
  • Amend MHSA to allow funding for people with serious mental illness paroled from state prisons
  • Overturn AB 1467 which severed Innovative Funds from helping people with serious mental illness
  • Refer illegal expenditures to Attorney General

Read the State Auditors Report on MHSA Commissioner’s failure to provide oversight

Read the Mental Illness Policy Org Report on $2 billion in waste as a result of lack of MHSA Oversight