Mental Health Association of Alameda County

Information About The Mental Health Association

 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 nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. MHAAC is an independent local affiliate of the Mental Health Association in California and the national organization Mental Health America.


The MHAAC engages in two broad kinds of activity.  The first involves providing direct assistance to people with mental illness and their families through the following programs:

* Family Education & Resource Center (FERC) is an 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, Livermore, Oakland and San Leandro.  FERC’s direct phone number is 888-896-3372; information is also available on its website  FERC completed 8 years of service in September.  As of October 2017, FERC had served more than 18,500 unduplicated family/caregivers.                                       

* Family Caregiver Advocacy and Support Program specializes in assisting families who have a relative with mental illness being served at John George Psychiatric Hospital or in the criminal justice system.  Help is available by telephone or drop-in visit at the MHAAC main office Monday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. Help is available by drop in visit at John George Psychiatric Hospital from 5-7:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday; also on Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  (More than 200 contacts from family/caregivers are responded to each month).  This program’s direct phone number is 510-835-0188.                                                                                                                             

* Family/Caregiver Support Groups provide mutual support to family/caregivers of people with mental illness.  The African-American Family Support Group meets at the MHAAC office the 4th Tuesday of each month (call 510-835-5010 for information).    

* Consumer and Family Assistance Office 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 program currently responds to more than 90 calls each month.  The direct number is 800-779-0787.                                      

* Capacity & Certification Review Hearing Representation Programs assist 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, more than 520 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 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 more than 1,000 requests for assistance and complaints per month.  The program’s direct phone number is 800-734-2504.

Family Partnership Program assists families who have a child or children living with mental illness in several ways including providing peer support and helping a family navigate services offered by County agencies, school systems and other provider agencies.  Family Partners have themselves experienced the reality of raising a child or children with behavioral and emotional challenges so they bring the perspective of a parent/caregiver to their work. 

Family Partners stand side by side with parent/caregivers to assist in negotiating and resolving conflicts with public agencies including schools. They will assist and accompany families to IEP meetings and in treatment team meetings.  Family Partners can help ensure that parent/caregivers are seen and heard in meetings concerning their child.  The main phone number for the program is 510-383-5129.  The Family Partnership Program is MHAAC’s newest program; we became the program’s sponsor in July.

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.  See MHAAC website for more information