Mental Health Association of Alameda County
The Mental Health Association of Alameda County (MHAAC) has been serving people with mental illness and their families in Alameda County since 1958. In 2006, MHAAC also began providing Patients’ Rights Advocacy Services in San Mateo County.
MHAAC is an independent local affiliate of the Mental Health Association in California and the national organization Mental Health America. MHAAC is an independent nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
The MHAAC engages in two broad kinds of activity. The first involves providing direct assistance to people with mental illness and their families through the following programs:
* Family Education & Resource Center (FERC) is an innovative family/caregiver-centered program that provides information, education and support services to family/caregivers of children, adolescents, transitional age youth, adults or older adults with serious emotional disturbance or mental illness living in all regions of Alameda County. These services are provided in a culturally competent manner, reaching out to people from a variety of language and cultural backgrounds.
FERC offers a telephone warm line/information and referral service; education, training and support for family/caregivers; and resource centers, including lending libraries, in each office. FERC has offices in Fremont, Livermore, Oakland and San Leandro. FERC’s direct phone number is 888-896-3372; information is also available on its website www.askferc.org FERC completed 7 years of service this past September. As of November 2016, FERC has served morae than 15,000 unduplicated family/caregivers.
* Family/Caregiver Support Groups provide mutual support to family/caregivers of people with mental illness. The African-American Family Support Group meets at the MHAAC office the 4th Tuesday of each month (call 510-835-5010 for information) and the FERC facilitates Family/Caregiver Support Groups throughout Alameda County (call 510-746-1700 for schedule and locations).
* Family Caregiver Advocacy and Support Program specializes in assisting families who have a relative with mental illness being served at John George Psychiatric Hospital or in the criminal justice system. Help is available by telephone or drop-in visit at the MHAAC main office Monday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. Help is available by drop in visit at John George Psychiatric Hospital from 5-7:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday; also on Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (More than 200 contacts from family/caregivers are responded to each month). This program’s direct phone number is 510-835-0188.
*Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP) is a collaborative effort to assist youth and young adults aged 16 to 24 in Alameda County who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of serious mental illness associated with psychosis. PREP aims to transform the treatment of psychosis by intervening early with culturally competent assessment and diagnosis and by delivering the most effective multifaceted treatment focused on wellness and achieving recovery. MHAAC's role in this collaborative is to provide peer support services to the youth and families in the program. Direct phone numbers: for clinical services - service providers should call 510-567-8199 and people seeking services, their families and friends can call 888-535-7737 – for more information, call 510-318-6100 or go to its website www.askprep.org
* Mental Health Advocates Program provides individual assistance to people with mental illness who are trying to secure benefits and services, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), General Assistance, Medi-Cal, etc. The program directly assists an average of 200 clients each month and also responds to approximately 1,200 phone calls for information and assistance. The direct phone number for this program is 510-835-5532
* Capacity & Certification Review Hearing Representation Programs assist involuntary patients whose capacity to exercise their right to refuse treatment with antipsychotic medication is in question and patients who have been certified as needing up to 14 days of intensive involuntary mental health treatment. On the average, more than 520 clients are assisted each month. (The MHAAC also operates these programs and the Patients' Rights Advocacy Program in San Mateo County.)
* Patients' Rights Advocacy Program responds to questions and complaints from patients in psychiatric hospitals/facilities, and residents of halfway houses or board and care homes who feel one or more of their rights have been denied. (Calls are also received from concerned family members or friends on behalf of a relative or friend.) This program responds to more than 1,000 requests for assistance and complaints per month. The program’s direct phone number is 800-734-2504
* Consumer and Family Assistance Office assists people who are using or are eligible for Medi-Cal-funded mental health services in Alameda County. The program receives complaints or grievances about services from consumers and families, and then works to resolve the problem(s). This program currently responds to more than 90 calls each month. The direct number is 510-830-3805.
The second area of MHAAC activities involves public education and policy advocacy.
MHAAC is the only independent and broadly representative organization in Alameda County working on behalf of people with mental illness and their families to monitor services, influence public policy and educate the public.
Public policy advocacy involves monitoring legislation and administrative regulations and, in selected instances, trying to influence legislation and regulations. MHAAC participated in the successful campaign to pass Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), and has since worked on MHSA planning and implementation in Alameda County.
Educating the public is also essential for two reasons: 1) many people who are in need of help do not know where to turn – we can put them in touch, if they know the Association or one of its programs exists and 2) most people don't know much about mental illness and, often, what people think they know is wrong - lack of knowledge and misinformation both contribute to the stigmatization which further burdens people with mental illness and their families.