Mental Health in California

Understanding Prevalence, System Connections, Service Delivery, and Funding

Adriana Ramos-Yamamoto, California Budget & Policy Center
Scott Graves, Director of Research, California Budget & Policy Center


More than a million California children, youth, and adults receive services each year through California’s public mental health system, which includes services organized and provided through counties, Medi-Cal managed care plans, community-based organizations, jails and prisons, schools, and other entities. The system is profoundly complex and interacts with many other public systems.

The California Budget & Policy Center produced a chartbook that looks at this complex system, Mental Health in California: Understanding Prevalence, System Connections, Service Delivery, and Funding, with support from CHCF.

The chartbook includes information on prevalence of mental illness among California children, youth, and adults; an examination of children and youth in California’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems who often need mental health care; estimates of the number of adults with mental illness who are homeless or in the criminal justice system; and a look at how governance and funding is structured for the public mental health system.

The center also produced two related fact sheets:

Californians and Mental Health: What We Know About Poverty and Race

Many Californians in Prisons and Jails Have Mental Health Needs