Above view of counseling during group therapy at mental health center.

Strengthening Mental Health Innovation in California

Public Sector Solutions, Health


$150MRecommended and built new tools to improve California’s $150 million Mental Health Services Act innovation funding

Social Finance collaborated with the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) to conduct an analysis of the agency’s Innovation funding stream, which was created in 2004 through the California State Legislature’s Mental Health Services Act to fund and pilot new approaches to delivering effective mental health services across the state.


  • Assess lessons learned to date across the Innovation Incubator’s projects, identify common barriers experienced by counties in pursuing system-level improvements, and highlight county-level successes that could inform efforts across the state.
  • Distill and refine learnings into a pragmatic continuous improvement framework that counties can use to improve outcomes, including through MHSA Innovation projects.
  • Inform and guide changes within MHSOAC and its state partners for continuous improvement and innovation in funding innovations in mental health.

The Work

  • Barrier assessment and acceleration agenda creation: Interviewed and collected written feedback from more than 100 stakeholders and MHSOAC partners, including Commissioners, stakeholder advocacy group members, county leaders, and technical assistance providers, to identify common barriers to project success within the Innovation Incubator and articulate potential solutions with broad support. Developed an acceleration agenda to operationalize the interview findings and potential solutions.
  • Continuous improvement framework and toolkit development: Created a continuous improvement framework with a resource library for MHSOAC and its county partners to support the development and planning of innovation projects.
  • Innovation action plan creation: Developed a roadmap and recommendations for MHSOAC functions to support continuous improvement and innovation.

The Results

In November 2022, MHSOAC staff put forth recommendations for improvement based on the Innovation Action Plan created by Social Finance. The recommendations were approved by the Commission.


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