Welcome to Mental Health Association of Alameda County



Frances Joe - San Francisco

Vice Presidents:
Patty Espeseth – Oakland

Garrett S. Murphy – Oakland

Ronald Tauber - Berkeley

Liz Rebensdorf - Oakland

Gregory Redmond - Oakland

Milly Alvarez – Oakland

Austra Gauger - Oakland

Betty Henry – Berkeley

Fareed Wardak – Pleasanton

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Information About the Mental Health Association

Vision          Mission          Values

The Mental Health Association of Alameda County (MHAAC) has been serving people with mental health challenges and their families in Alameda County since 1958.  In 2006, MHAAC also began providing Patients’ Rights Advocacy Services in San Mateo County and in 2019 we began providing Patients' Rights Advocacy Services in Marin County. 

MHAAC is an independent nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. MHAAC is an independent local affiliate of the Mental Health America of California and the national organization Mental Health America.


The MHAAC engages in two broad types of activity.  The first involves providing direct assistance to people with mental health challenges and their families through the following programs:

* Family Education and 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 health challenges living in all regions of Alameda County.  These services are provided in a culturally sensitive 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.  There are resource centers, including lending libraries, in each office.  FERC also sponsors family caregiver support and educational groups in various locations around the county.  FERC has offices in Fremont, Livermore and Oakland.  FERC’s warm-line number is 888-896-3372; the main office number is 510-746-1700. information is also available on its website www.FERC.org 

FERC has been providing information, education, support and advocacy services since 2009.  FERC has served more than 25,000 unduplicated family caregivers.                                       

Family Partnership Program assists families who have a child or children living with behavioral and/or emotional challenges in several ways including providing peer support and helping a family navigate services offered by Alameda County agencies, school systems and other provider agencies.  Family Partners have themselves experienced the reality of raising a child with behavioral and emotional challenges so they bring the perspective of a parent caregiver to their work. 

Family Partners stand side by side with parent caregivers to assist in negotiating and resolving conflicts with public agencies, including schools. They will both assist parent caregivers in planning for Individualized Education Program (IEP) and treatment team sessions and accompany families to those meetings.  Family Partners can help ensure that parent caregivers are seen and heard in meetings concerning their child.  Family Partners also provide formal training opportunities for families through the Educate, Equip and Support curriculum.  Finally, Family Partners provide concrete support to families with back to school events, holiday events and a food pantry.  The main phone number for the program is 510-383-5129.  

Family Caregiver Advocacy and Support Program specializes in assisting families who have a family member with mental illness being served at John George Psychiatric Hospital. The Specialist helps orient families who are new to John George Psychiatric Hospital,  the Alameda County Behavioral Health system and often new to having a loved one with mental health challenges.  The Specialist does this by offering information about government and community-based programs that serve people who are struggling with mental health and/or substance use challenges.  The Specialist often acts as a liaison between family caregivers and service programs by advocating for families as they navigate through the mental health system.  The Specialist has personal experience with the system and knows what family caregivers are going through.  She offers empathy, education, support and provides hope.  The Specialist is based part-time at John George Psychiatric Hospital with the remainder of her time spent at the MHAAC main office.  The direct phone number is 510-393-9275.  The Specialist responds to more than 200 inquiries from family caregivers each month. 

* African-American Family Focused Programs Since the early '90s, MHAAC has sponsored an African American Family Support Group.  The group meets the 4th Tuesday of each month (except December) from 5:30 - 7:30 pm at the main MHAAC office, located at 954 60th Street, Suite 10 in Oakland.

Since July 2017, MHAAC has presented workshops intended to help African American families to talk about mental illness and learn to cope with mental health challenges and/or substance use issues within their families.  For more information about these programs, please call 510-835-5010.   

* Consumer and Family Assistance Office assists people who are receiving or eligible to receive Medi-Cal-funded mental health services and their family members with grievances or appeals about mental health or substance abuse treatment services provided under the auspices of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services.  if appropriate, the Consumer Assistance Specialist works with the dissatisfied person(s) and the service provider to resolve the problem(s).  This program currently responds to more than 90 calls each month.  The direct number is 800-779-0787.  

MHAAC's Patients' Rights Advocacy staff members are present on a daily basis in psychiatric facilities in Alameda, Marin and San Mateo counties as they provide the legally mandated services listed in the next two paragraphs:   

* Capacity & Certification Review Hearing Representation Programs.  Capacity Hearings are held when the doctor petitions the court for permission to administer psychiatric medications without the patient's consent when the treatment team believes that the patient's mental illness is interfering with their decision to make a rational decision about medication.   Certification Review Hearings are automatically held for all patients initially admitted on a "5150" involuntary 72 hour hold when the doctor wants to keep the patient in the hospital beyond the initial 72 hour hold.  Patients' Rights Advocates assist involuntary patients to prepare for hearings.  Advocates gather evidence and help develop legal arguments to support their client's position in court proceedings.  During the hearings. advocates provide representation, arguing their clients position.  On average, 540 clients are assisted each month.

* Patients' Rights Advocacy Program responds to questions and complaints from patients in psychiatric hospitals/facilities, and other residential settings 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.)  The program provides education and consultation about laws governing mental health services to consumers and their family caregivers, community members and service providers.  Advocates also monitor facilities for compliance with codes and regulations.  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.


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 health challenges and their families to monitor services, influence public policy and educate the public.  See MHAAC website for more information www.mhaac.org


Join MHAAC on Facebook.com            Phone: (510) 835-5010         fax: (510) 835-9232          Send Us An E-mail