Media Release
Media Release
Press Contact: Josefa Molina, Provisional QI Supervisor, (510) 981-5229

NEW FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT IN BERKELEY AND ALBANY

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, April 15, 2009) - The City of Berkeley is holding a 30-day public comment period on its draft Workforce Education and Training (WET) Plan under California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The draft WET Plan proposes $659,500 of new state funding to be utilized over a 10-year period. Berkeley’s Mental Health Division serves the communities of Berkeley and Albany.

The proposed WET plan addresses the shortage of qualified individuals who provide services in the local public mental health system. This includes programs operated by the City of Berkeley Mental Health Division and community based organizations that provide publicly-funded mental health services through contracts with Berkeley Mental Health or Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services.

The Berkeley/Albany community is home to many licensed mental health professionals. Finding a bilingual therapist or someone who provides culturally sensitive mental health services, however, is not so easy. The Mental Health Services Act also envisions an expanded workforce that goes beyond traditional roles and includes recruiting, training and employing mental health consumers as service providers, building on their personal experiences to provide peer support. Other professional shortage areas nationwide include psychiatrists and nurses, particularly those specializing in services for children and youth.

The proposed WET Plan allocates funding in four areas: Workforce Staffing Support, Training and Technical Assistance, Mental Health Career Pathway Programs, and Financial Incentive Programs.

Background
Voters approved the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) in November 2004.  This Act places a 1% tax on every dollar of personal income over $1 million.  The State allocates these revenues to public mental health departments for the purpose of transforming and expanding mental health services.  Workforce Education and Training is one of five MHSA funding components.

The Mental Health Services Act requires 30-day public comment periods before new programs are submitted for state approval.  In accordance with state guidelines, the 30-day public comment period for the draft WET Plan will begin on Wednesday, April 15, 2009.  At the conclusion of the public comment period, the Mental Health Commission will hold a public hearing on May 28, 2008, at 5:00 pm in the Adult Services auditorium at 2640 Martin Luther King Jr., Way.

For detailed information on how to review and provide feedback on the draft plan, the public is invited to view the MHSA website at www.cityofberkeley.info/mentalhealth.  A copy of the draft WET Plan will also be available for review in the reference section of the Central Public Library located on 2090 Kittredge Street in downtown Berkeley.

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