For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Karen Klatt, Division on Mental Health, (510) 981-5222

NEW FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN BERKELEY AND ALBANY

Berkeley, California (Thursday, January 08, 2009) - The City of Berkeley is holding a 30-day public comment period on its draft Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Plan under California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The draft PEI Plan proposes $750,000 of new state funding for a range of prevention-oriented mental health services for people of all ages, with an emphasis on young people and their families.  Berkeley’s Mental Health Division serves the communities of Berkeley and Albany.

The Mental Health Services Act is state legislation approved by voters in November 2004 that places an extra 1 percent tax on every dollar of personal income over $1 million. The State allocates these tax revenues to local mental health departments for the purpose of “expanding and transforming” public mental health services in California. Despite the State’s current budget crisis, the Mental Health Services Act has resulted in several new programs and services.

The Mental Health Services Act has several funding components being phased in statewide over a period of three years. Berkeley's first MHSA plan was approved by the state Department of Mental Health in September 2006. Currently, the City of Berkeley receives $1.2 million annually in MHSA funds with $2.3 million in annual funds set aside in Sacramento awaiting plans and State approvals. The draft Prevention and Early Intervention Plan is one of those plans.

The draft PEI Plan allocates funds for four new projects: screening children aged 0-5 for signs of developmental delays and assisting their families to get help early; mental health prevention programs in the Berkeley and Albany schools; community education, resource and support groups to improve access to care for people who have been poorly served by the public mental health system; and a local campaign to fight stigma about mental illness and seeking treatment.

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 PEI Plan began on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 and will close on January 28. 

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the Mental Health Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday, January 29, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. in the Adult Services auditorium at 2640 Martin Luther King Jr., Way. Community meetings will also be offered during January to present the plan to the public and answer any questions.

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 PEI 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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