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Community Mental health equity project
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Culture Heals

At the Office of Health Equity (OHE) we believe culture catalyzes change and gives hope to every community. A reimagined culturally inclusive mental health system acknowledges and respects the beliefs and behaviors of underserved consumers and subsequently heals us from the roots.

-Our Ancestors

Community Mental Health Equity Project

The Community Mental Health Equity Project (CMHEP) is a collaborative effort between the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Health Equity (OHE) and Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Medi-Cal Behavioral Health Division (MCBHD). Given CDPH's previous experience with similar projects, OHE will administer $4,500,000 in grants for up to 35 community based organizations (CBOs). 

Similarly, since MCBHD has oversight and monitoring responsibilities of county Mental Health Plans' cultural competence and quality improvement programs, the $3,000,000 in technical assistance (TA) funds will be used to contract with one or more consultants with expertise in cultural competence, health equity, stakeholder engagement, language access, and trauma informed care to provide TA to counties on population-specific and community-driven approaches to reduce disparities.

These funds are available until June 30, 2022.

Community Mental Health Equity Project Guiding Principles

  • Honor beliefs, traditional healing, values, religions, and spirituality of California's cultures

  • Promote and create effective engagement between diverse consumers and mental health community based organizations

  • Create intersectional partnerships and movement building around mental health

  • Advocate for cultural inclusion and promote tailored mental health service delivery

  • Capture and capitalize on the strength of people power to advance mental health equity

Project Domains

CMHEP domains are standardized for uniformity across all funded programs and for optimal evaluation positioning. Community based organizations (CBOs) will select a number of domains to focus on and also tailor domain deliverables in their Scope of Work to meet their community needs. As part of the development process other factors such as data collection aspects, community capacity, and evaluation mechanisms were considered.

1.  Improving Communication and Outreach Efforts 

In line with emerging data on racial and ethnic disparities around the COVID-19 pandemic, CBO's are encouraged to increase outreach for their culturally tailored interventions by a self-selected percentage. Further, to provide critical cultural responsive COVID-19 information to vulnerable communities and multi-cultural communities, CBO's will develop increase communication strategies, including but limited to in-language materials and culturally curated social media coverage around mental health resources, accessing services, and self-care techniques. All communication strategies should target and be tailored for California's most underserved and vulnerable populations.

2.  Support Workforce Development 

To best support the second COVID-19 surge CBO's will increase culturally congruency among on the ground staff support for mental health initiatives by ensuring staff are able to effectively communicate and representative of the communities they serve. Staff may serve in the form of promotoras, behavioral health student interns, allied behavioral health professionals and other mental health professional development opportunities. Further, CBOs will ensure staff are culturally informed and prepared to offer culturally responsive mental health services upon intake.

3.  Increased Access and Case Management 

Enhance (strengthen) or partially support a case management system/centralized patient intake system for the purpose of increasing access to underserved families and more efficiently linking them with culturally appropriate community resources such as patient navigators, language access services, therapy, and peer support groups.

4.  Technology Access and Enhancement

To provide for additional technology needs as a result of extended COVID-19 surge. These are costs all CBOs may have on an ongoing basis. For the short-term, including but not limited to expanding technology hardware and software resources to operate virtually. For the long-term, supporting organizational capacity building to offer culturally tailored mental health services in alternate formats utilizing technology platforms and participating in advance technology trainings.

5.  Mental Health Direct Services 

Facing a second surge of COVID-19 and exacerbated health disparities amongst underserved populations, training will be critical for community-defined mental health programs and staff to offer culturally informed direct services on grief and loss, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health concerns. These culturally informed mental health services are vital in creating a bridge to serving vulnerable communities with respect to their cultural values and beliefs during a time of crisis.

Community Mental Health Equity Project Flow

Community Mental Health Equity Graph

                              Figure 1. Graphic description of CMHEP collaborative 

Collaborative Roles & Responsibilities


  • Serve as principal project manager

  • Update and solicit input from the CDPH OHE Advisory Committee

  • Work in consultation with DHCS and community stakeholder

  • Collaborate with DHCS on performance measures and evaluation

  • Convene regular collaborative meetings with DHCS

  • Procure contracts with community based organizations to implement community-defined mental health approaches



  • Conduct state and national level research on efforts

  • Convene cross-county virtual learning collaboratives

  • Design and provide virtual TA and training for counties to enhance data collection, data analysis, and quality improvement efforts

  • Participate in CDPH OHE Advisory Committee and report on DHCS' progress

  • Hire a health equity expert consultant

Evaluation Concept

  • The CMHEP evaluation will be led by OHE

  • OHE will build on and leverage existing data collection tools and resources

  • Concept will closely align program development process with evaluation data collection needs

  • Key informant interviews with CMHEP stakeholders from the CRDP program representatives across the initiative's five priority populations (African American, Asian Pacific Islander, LGBTQ, Latinx, and Native American)

    County Cultural Competence Plan Requirements and National CLAS Standards 

    Project Leads Contact Information 

    For more CDPH Information contact:

    Lizbeth Villegas-Gomez, MPH, MHA​  


    For more DHCS Information contact:

    Monika Grass, MA

    Program Resources 

    Coming Soon! 


    Request for Allocation

    Community Mental Health Project - Request for Allocation Program Guidance

     If you are having difficulty accessing this document please contact CDPH at​ ​to request this information in an alternate format.

    Statuatory Authority

    Coming Soon! 

    Department of Health Care Services Interagency Agreement

    Coming Soon! 

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