California's historic effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness: the Mental Health Services Act

Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):786-94. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301225. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


In a historic effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness, California voters approved the Mental Health Services Act in 2004. The law funds a comprehensive statewide prevention initiative that places stigma and discrimination reduction at its center, with 25 projects providing interventions at the institutional, societal, and individual levels. Stakeholders selected specific strategies from the research-based California Strategic Plan on Reducing Stigma and Discrimination. Strategies range from social marketing to increase public knowledge to capacity building at the local level, including training that emphasizes participation by consumers of mental health services and cultural competence. Collectively, these strategies aim to foster permanent change in the public perception of mental illness and in the individual experience of stigma. We examined the context, planning, programming, and evaluation of this effort.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • California
  • Capacity Building / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Participation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Cultural Competency / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Cultural Competency / psychology
  • Health Promotion / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / psychology
  • Program Development / methods
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Program Evaluation / standards
  • Social Justice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Social Marketing
  • Social Stigma*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology