Newsletter Article

Why Are You Here?

In this series about CalMHSA staff, we offer a profile of our colleagues and why they’ve chosen to contribute to the work we do. 

Meet Candice Medina, Senior Program Coordinator 

Candice Medina, a senior program coordinator at CalMHSA, is passionate about helping counties work with community-based organizations (CBOs) so they can truly expand access to the behavioral health care needs for some of their most vulnerable, underserved populations. 

“I feel like my work at CalMHSA is what I was meant to do,” she said. “I get to help provide access to care for people in all parts of California, based on whatever the local need is. It helps to create a ‘meet your community where it is’ approach.” 

As the liaison between counties and CBOs, Candice helps to bring the county vision to life for vital initiatives like stigma reduction, suicide prevention, support for individuals who are unhoused, linkage services, housing and food assistance, and more. She also writes and manages RFPs for Community-Based and Early Intervention Grants, and supports suicide prevention hotline services and the Psychiatric Advance Directive initiative for participating counties.  

“Candice is an equity and community champion,” said Senior Program Director Jeremy Wilson. “She understands the vital role community-based organizations play in preventing the negative outcomes of mental illness and supporting recovery journeys, and she consistently seeks out opportunities that elevate the voices of diverse communities.” 

Originally from rural Tulare County, Candice came to Sacramento as a young adult with two small children seeking a new start and better life for her family. 

“Growing up as an at-risk youth, around gang activity and drug addiction, and pregnant at my high school graduation, I knew I had to figure out a way to give my kids the life they deserved,” she said. 

Her move to Sacramento put her life on a new trajectory. Eventually, she found her way to a job at the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions, where she worked for 10 years, collecting data for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. That role helped expand her understanding of mental health care. 

“Seeing the data, I realized that mental health isn’t just about diagnosis but also trauma and environment. I started to understand that I could lead with my lived experience and then incorporate my professional skills to benefit others,” she said.  

As someone who has personally navigated many of the systems she now works to support, Candice finds meaning in helping people “be seen,” especially individuals in lower socioeconomic, immigrant and youth communities. 

“Coming to CalMHSA showed me that I can truly be who I am, and show myself, and be able to support counties and their larger communities,” she said. “Just knowing that we’re giving communities those resources…humanizing Californians is why I do this.” 


April 23, 2024