A Complex Case: Public Mental Health Delivery and Financing in California

In California, about 16 percent of the adult population, more than 4 million people, have mental health care needs. For those with disabling conditions who do not have private health insurance, publicly funded programs are their primary, if not only, source of mental health care.

In California, about 16 percent of the adult population, more than 4 million people, have mental health care needs. For those with disabling conditions who do not have private health insurance, publicly funded programs are their primary, if not only, source of mental health care.

Due to the lack of coverage of mental health services through private insurance, over time, public facilities and programs have played an increasingly important role in the provision and coverage of mental health care. Public mental health services in California are delivered primarily through county systems that operate separately from other publicly funded health care services. These county mental health programs are funded mainly through dedicated revenue streams that are not subject to the annual state appropriations process.

This report provides an overview of how California's public mental health system services are financed, administered, and delivered. This overview is offered as background to inform policy discussions about how public mental health services fit within California's overall public health care system.

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