The Mental Health Association of Alameda County (MHAAC) has been serving people with mental illness and their families in Alameda County since 1958. In 2006, MHAAC also began providing Patients' Rights Advocacy Services in San Mateo County.
MHAAC is an independent local affiliate of the Mental Health Association in California and the nation organization Mental Health America. MHAAC is an independent nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
The MHAAC engages in two broad kinds of activity. The first involves providing direct assistance to people with mental illness and the families through the following programs:
Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP):
PREP is a collaborative effort to assist youth and young adults aged 16 to 24 in Alameda County who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of serious mental illness associated with psychosis. PREP aims to transform the treatment of psychosis by intervening early with culturally competent assessment and diagnosis and by delivering the most effective multifaceted treatment focused on wellness and achieving recovery. MHAAC's role in this new collaborative is to provide outreach and educational presentations to inform the community about this new program and to reduce stigma associated with psychosis. PREP began serving youth and families in July 2010. Direct phone numbers: for clinical services 888-535-7737; to arrange an educational presentation 510-697-7737-information is also available on the PREP website at www.askprep.org.
Family Education & Resource Center:
FERC is a new and innovative family/caregiver centered program that provides information, education and support services to family/caregivers of children, adolescents, transitional age youth, adults or older adults with serious emotional disturbance or mental illness living in all regions of Alameda County. These services are provided in a culturally competent manner, reaching out to people from a variety of language and cultural backgrounds.
FERC offers a telephone warm line/information and referral service; education, training and support for family/caregivers; and resource centers, including lending libraries, in each office. FERC has offices in Fremont, Hayward, Livermore and Oakland. It is a component of Alameda County's Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) Community Services and Supports plan. FERC assists 109 family/caregivers each month. FERC's direct phone number is 888-896-3372; information is also available on its website www.askferc.org.
Family Caregiver Advocacy and Support Program:
The Family Caregiver Advocacy and Support Program specializes in assisting families who have a relative with a mental illness being served at John George Psychiatric Pavilion or in the criminal justice system. Help is available at the MHAAC main office from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays by telephone or drop-in visit and at John George Psychiatric Pavilion from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by drop-in visit. (More than 250 family/caregivers are assisted each month). This program's direct phone number is 510-835-0188.
Mental Health Advocates Program:
The Mental Health Advocates Program provides individual assistance to people with mental illness who are trying to secure benefits and services, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), General Assistance, Medi-Cal, etc. The program directly assists an average of 171 clients each month and also responds to more than 207 phone calls for information and assistance. The direct phone number for this program is 510-835-5532.
Capacity & Certification Review Hearing Representation Program:
The Capacity & Certification Review Hearing Representation Program assists involuntary patients whose capacity to exercise their right to refuse treatment with antipsychotic medication is in question and patients who have been certified as needing up to 14 days of intensive involuntary mental health treatment. On the average, 478 clients are assisted each month. (The MHAAC also operates these programs and the Patients' Rights Advocacy Program in San Mateo County).
Patients' Rights Advocacy Program:
The Patients' Rights Advocacy Program which responds to questions and complaints from patients in psychiatric hospitals/facilities, and residents of halfway houses or board and care homes who feel one or more of their rights have been denied. (Calls are also received from concerned family members or friends on behalf of a relative or friend). This program responds to 762 calls and complaints per month. The program's direct phone number is 800-734-2504.
Consumer and Family Assistance Office:
The Consumer and Family Assistance Office, which assists people who are using or are eligible for Medi-Cal funded mental health services in Alameda County. The program receives complaints or grievances about services from consumers and families, and then works to resolve the problem(s). This progam currently responds to 68 call each month. The direct number is 510-830-3805.
The second area of MHAAC activities involves public education and policy advocacy.
MHAAC is the only independent and broadly representative organization in Alameda County working on behalf of people with mental illness and their families to monitor services, influence public policy and educate the public.
Public policy advocacy involves monitoring legislation and administrative regulations and, in selected instances, trying to influence legislation and regulations. MHAAC participated in the successful campaign to pass Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and has since worked on MHSA planning and implementation in Alameda County.
Educating the public is also essential for two reasons 1) many people who are in need of help do not know where to turn - we can put them in touch, if they know the Association exists and 2) most people don't know much about mental illness and, often, what people think they know is wrong - lack of knowledge and misinformation both contribute to the stigmatization which further burdens people with mental illness and their families.