The success of the Mental Services Act—and some concerns

One of the most dramatic changes to the state mental health system came in 2004, when voters passed Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act. The 1% tax on millionaires has brought about $2 billion a year of new revenue into the system.

report issued last year about the effectiveness of the money in Los Angeles County showed that it is making a difference there, both by providing prevention and early intervention services for young people who hadn’t previously accessed them, and by improving outcomes for people with serious mental illness involved with expanded full-service partnership programs.

But some aspects of the law have continued to prove controversial over the years—including tracking how counties are (or are not) spending the money. Most recently, an audit showed that the California Department of Health Care Services allowed county mental health departments to accrue $231 million in funds by the end of the 2015-16, money which should have either been spent or returned to the states.