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Mental Health Board

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In 1957, the State of California passed the Short-Doyle Act, which gave to counties the responsibility for providing treatment and care to the mentally ill through a community-based and community-operated mental health system. The Legislature at the same time mandated the establishment of a Mental Health Board (MHB) in each county. The boards were seen as a key mechanism for assuring citizen involvement and therefore accountability for the mental health systems in the communities which they serve. San Francisco, however, had established its own MHB a year earlier than that, and when the state legislation came along, incorporated that language into its City Ordinance regarding the Board.

Current Law

In 1992-93, California passed the Bronzan-McCorquodale Act, which significantly changed mental health services, with more of the focus and responsibility passing to the counties. With everything except for the state hospitals now being county-run, the Legislature also made changes to the advisory structure increasing the number of consumers and family members on the Board. The MHBs remained the primary vehicle for citizens to have oversight of the administration and provision of the services funded by their tax dollars. MHBs are still required to represent, proportionately, the populations and stakeholders interested in mental health services.


By spelling out the requirements for membership very specifically, the Legislature sought to ensure that the MHB would include the various perspectives and groups in the mental health constituency in each county. Thus, the law sets up categories of membership. The law further provides that membership must reflect the ethnic diversity of the county's client population. There is also a requirement that no member of the MHB, or his or her spouse, may be a paid employee of the State Department of Mental Health, or of a San Francisco contract or civil service mental health program.

Mission Statement

The Mental Health Board of San Francisco represents and ensures the inclusion of the diverse voices of consumers, family members, citizens and stakeholders in advising how mental health services are administered and provided. Through its state and city mandates, the MHB advises, reviews, advocates and educates; with the aim of having that advice integrated, incorporated and reflected in implementation of mental health policy; with the ultimate goal of ensuring quality mental health services.

Types of Seats on the Board

The Mental Health Board has 17 members, each appointed under one of five different categories of membership:


A person who is using, or has used, mental health services in San Francisco from any program operated or funded by the City and County, or services from a State Hospital or services from any public or private nonprofit mental health agency. Number of Consumer Seats on the Board: Five.

Family Member

Relative, spouse, partner, or significant other of consumers. Number of Family Member Seats on the Board: Six.

Mental Health Professional

People who are in professions such as the following: psychiatry, psychology, psychiatric nursing, marriage and family counseling, licensed clinical social work, psychiatric technology, or administration of a psychiatric hospital or mental health facility. Number of Mental Health Professional Seats on the Board: Two

Public Interest

People interested in or knowledgeable about mental health and mental health issues, for example: Lawyers, taxi drives, poets, musicians, teachers, students, homemakers, police offices, and business people. Number of Public Interest Seats on the Board: Three

Board of Supervisors

One member of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco is a member of the Mental Health Board.