Message from the Executive Director

Standing Behind County Efforts to Address Homelessness 

Amie Miller, PsyD., Executive Director 

Earlier this month, CalMHSA launched a new messaging platform and awareness campaign for counties to use in social media and other formats. The campaign — we’re calling it “Hey Neighbor” — emphasizes all that your teams do to help individuals in your communities who are unhoused. Our hope is that every county will embrace this messaging so that we can talk to our fellow Californians with a singular, unified voice.  

After reflecting on the State’s latest plans to address the homelessness epidemic in California, we came to the conclusion last fall that we, as mental health professionals and advocates, need to more broadly share how our work positively impacts individuals who are unhoused. The messages we developed emphasize that county behavioral health departments play a critical role in helping people stay off the streets long-term and that the solution isn’t either/or it’s housing and mental health treatment.  

We worked closely with a human-centered design firm in collaboration with county behavioral health leaders from around the state to find out what they’re experiencing, what needs they’re responding to and what they think is needed to help others better understand their involvement.  

We launched the campaign and a website earlier this month at a meeting attended by nearly every county in the state. If you missed it, you can view the recording here — it’s a great in-depth look at how and why we’re doing this, and what our goals are. Details for accessing marketing materials are shared elsewhere in this month’s newsletter. 

Before we finalized the messaging, we tested it in a survey of 300 Californians who matched our target audience. What we found was that before seeing the messages, 67% had a neutral or negative perception of county behavioral health, and afterward 90% had a positive or very positive perception. 

We’re excited to see how you use the materials, and we have great confidence that, with your help, we can truly build awareness around your services, your workers, and ultimately, your impact.  


February 27, 2024