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Berkeley, California is a college community that is home to the oldest branch of the University of California. Located in northern California, the city boasts moderate temperatures and a laid-back way of life. Of the 115,000 residents1, a large majority are employed by the university and many more by the City of Berkeley.
Mental Health Statistics
Berkeley is located in Alameda County, and overall, rates of mental illness or emotional disturbance among county residents fell just over 6% in 20002, according to the California Health and Human Services Agency. In addition, the agency reported that during the years of 2008 and 2009, a total of 16,000 Alameda County residents received 72-hour inpatient evaluation for a psychological or emotional disturbance3.
Focusing on Mental Health
Berkeley is fortunate to be positively impacted by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), also known as Proposition 63, passed in 2004. The MHSA provides specific funding, derived from an excess income tax, to help meet the financial obligations of state-funded mental health services and programs. This additional revenue is helping California meet its goal of expanding, improving, and extending its core mental health programs so that all cities, counties, and citizens can reap the benefits.
In Berkeley, the additional funding has allowed the city to provide a broader range of family services, consumer protection services, and employment counseling and coaching. Social services impacted by the MHSA include multicultural programs, outreach missions, programs for the homeless, extensive mental health care for children and young people with emotional needs, and additional programs designed to meet the needs of young people between the ages of 16 and 254.
All of Berkeley's programs are part of the Berkeley Division of Mental Health, which focuses on meeting the social, medical, financial, and mental health needs of all citizens. Using outreach programs and community resources, the Division of Mental Health incorporates clinic, shelter, and school-based services along with personal in-home visits to ensure all residents are receiving the care they need.
Berkeley works closely with its sister city, Albany, and together, they have developed the Berkeley/Albany Mental Health Commission with the goal of providing oversight to their shared healthcare system. The group ensures that all clients are being treated with respect and dignity and that all staff members and programs are compliant with state and local regulations5. Further, the commission works hard to advocate for all members of society.
The staff at the Berkeley/Albany Mental Health Department is made up of professionals from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They are able to communicate with residents in a number of languages and staff members can offer services that include nursing care, psychiatric care, psychological counseling, casework, and peer counseling. The common thread binding all of the professionals in the Berkeley Division of Mental Health is the commitment to providing excellent mental health care for all residents of the Berkeley/Albany region.