California mental health tax providing services to needy in L.A. County, study finds

March 13, 2018, RAND Corporation

Funding from California's special tax for mental health services has allowed Los Angeles County to reach the seriously mentally ill and those at risk for mental illness with services and prevention efforts, lowering both homelessness and the need for psychiatric hospitalizations, while improving employment and wellbeing, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The analysis found that from 2012 through 2016, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health provided prevention and early intervention services to almost 130,000 youth, and intensive clinical and social services designed to stabilize those who have serious psychiatric illnesses to almost 25,000 youth and adults.

"We found evidence that the services created in Los Angeles County under the Mental Health Services Act are reaching the people they intend to help, and those people are benefitting from the services provided," said Scott Ashwood, lead author of the report and a policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 63, which created a 1 percent tax on all personal income over $1 million to provide expanded statewide.

Researchers from RAND and UCLA analyzed administrative data to evaluate two types of programs in Los Angeles County supported by the tax. The first is prevention and early intervention programs that aim to prevent the onset of mental illness and the related negative consequences. The second area evaluated was the county's full-service partnership program, which takes a "housing first" approach to improve residential stability and mental outcomes for people with serious .

Funding from the Mental Health Services Act allowed the county Department of Mental Health to significantly expand both types of services to reach more people from a wider array of age groups.

The evaluation found that the prevention program provided services to about 130,000 youths, with 65 percent of those served being new clients. Hispanic and Asian youth served by the program had particularly good outcomes in comparison to other groups, although all racial/ethnic groups saw improvements.

"Helping young people can change the trajectory of their lives and potentially put them on a path where they experience less suffering, better relationships and more success in life," Ashwood said.

Researchers found that the number of people receiving services under the full- partnership program rose over the study period, providing intensive housing support and other to about 25,000 adults and children during the period. Participants tended to have a severe diagnosis, such as suffering from schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, and had a high likelihood of being homeless.

The rate of homelessness dropped sharply among those served by the program and participants also experienced less inpatient hospitalization for their problems. The employment rate also increased among those receiving services, although the overall jobless rate among the group remained high.

Researchers recommend that the county Department of Mental Health revise some of its data collection methods to better document whether program participants are improving and whether best practices are being followed as services are delivered.

The evaluation did not include other county services supported by the Mental Health Services Act, such as primary prevention programs or outreach services, because those efforts do not have data readily available for review.

Explore further: Self-esteem key to treating mental health

More information: The study, "Evaluation of the Mental Health Services Act in Los Angeles County Implementation and Outcomes for Key Programs," is available at www.rand.org

Related Stories

Self-esteem key to treating mental health

February 20, 2018
Improving how mental health patients perceive themselves could be critical in treating them, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

L.A. homeless housing program saves more money than it costs

December 5, 2017
A public-private effort to provide permanent supportive housing to people in Los Angeles County with complex medical and behavioral health issues who were experiencing homelessness caused a significant drop in their use of ...

Public mental health care for older Californians is lacking as need grows

January 25, 2018
California's older adult population will increase 64 percent by 2035, and with it the need for more mental health services. Yet the state's public mental health system lacks adequate services specifically tailored to older ...

Raising awareness of mental health issues is not enough

January 31, 2018
The profile of mental health has been raised significantly in the past few years, partly due to campaigning from mental health charities and partly due to high-profile people – from Prince Harry to Professor Green – speaking ...

Campus programs increase California college students receiving mental health services

December 10, 2015
The proportion of California public university and college students receiving treatment for mental health issues increased more than 10 percent in the final year of a statewide prevention and early intervention program, according ...

Decreasing mental health services increases mental health emergencies

November 20, 2015
Countywide reductions in psychiatric services—both inpatient and outpatient—led to more than triple the number of emergency psychiatric consults and 55 percent increases in lengths of stay for psychiatric patients in ...

Recommended for you

New brain research suggests that schizophrenia is an extreme version of a common personality type

September 18, 2018
Researchers have found that the signals in people's brains differ depending on a particular aspect of an individual's personality, termed Schizotypy, a discovery that could improve the way schizophrenia is characterised and ...

New era in virtual reality therapy for common phobias

September 18, 2018
Dick Tracey didn't have to visit a tall building to get over his fear of heights. He put on a virtual reality headset.

Do we trust people who speak with an accent?

September 18, 2018
You are in a strange neighbourhood, your cell phone's dead, and you desperately need to find the closest garage. A couple of people on the street chime in, each sending you in opposite directions. One person sounds like a ...

We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests

September 17, 2018
When assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research.

Being forgotten by acquaintances can affect self-esteem in the same way as being rejected

September 17, 2018
Psychologists at The University of Aberdeen looking into the experience of being forgotten have discovered that memory lapses can damage relationships.

Breakthrough in schizophrenia identifies importance of immune cells

September 14, 2018
Researchers from NeuRA and UNSW have made a major discovery in schizophrenia research that could open doors to new treatments, research and therapies.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.