Olivia Loewy and Associates

Textbook 2

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WORKING IN THE California Community Behavioral Health SYSTEMA navigational tool


In November 2004 the citizens of the state of California passed Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).  Since the MHSA became law in 2005, the California public behavioral health system has continuously been subjected to massive, encompassing change.  When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, California mental health was “ahead of the curve” as both laws required incorporation of the concepts and approach to treatment that had been presented in the 2003 President's New Freedom Commission report.  However, the ACA reached beyond mental health to include primary care in its scope, seeking to integrate and transform all public systems of healthcare.  True to our progressive spirit, California has embraced this opportunity and new structures and systems of integrated care continue to emerge. 

Treatment philosophies and orientations, client populations, terminology, technology, work settings, funds, protocols, procedures and structures of care have all radically changed in an effort to improve upon the services provided by county-based mental health programs.

This book is the product of a truly collaborative effort.  Our diverse Committee of professionals created and developed the content outline and then reached beyond our own experience and knowledge into the public behavioral health community to engage clients, employers, clinicians, and associates in an effort to present a broad scope, personal and real perspective from within varied facets and all levels of the system. 

What You Need to Know

While a foundational section provides context that addresses the evolving systems of care, this book is primarily written to be used for practical application.  In the subsequent sections, The Recovery-Oriented Workplace consists of chapters that contain clear, useful guidelines for working within a recovery oriented public system of care, including:  conducting therapy, crisis management/assessment, case conceptualization, treatment planning, documentation, strength-based and recovery-oriented clinical approaches (all essential skills for any clinician but critical skills for a clinician working in public mental health). 

A section on Perspectives From Within the Community Behavioral Health System presents information submitted by employers, clinicians, and clients to answer the question:  What are they looking for?  

Finally a chapter titled: Fitting into an Evolving Vision, highlights resources and addresses considerations for academic or training pursuits that may prepare readers in advance for anticipated changes and challenges.  

Who Needs to Know

The Navigational Tool will be a useful resource for educators who are teaching Community Mental Health courses or working with students in any capacity to prepare them for employment in public behavioral health.  Supervisors and practicum instructors will also be able to update and broaden their perspectives in guiding future public system providers. 

Beyond the classroom, this book is designed to be used as a handbook for graduates who are preparing for placement, as well as for agency and county employees and employers at all levels who wish to update their knowledge and practical application skills related to the changing systems of care.