Mission Statement

The Mental Health Association of Orange County is dedicated to improving the quality of life of Orange County residents impacted by mental illness through direct service, advocacy, education and information dissemination.

Agency Overview

MHA is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. MHA currently operates from four service centers. All of our programs serve adults with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders. Our annual budget is approximately $8.5 million. Our recent independent audits indicate that our administrative and fund raising expenses are just 8% of our total annual budget. With the other 92% of our funds we serve over 16,000 Orange County residents each year.

The organization's foundation is its volunteer board of directors, which includes 15-20 members of our community. These lawyers, business people, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, family members and consumers all come together to set policy for the agency, to ensure adequate resources, and to help us plan for our future. The board is also responsible for the employment and supervision of the Chief Executive Officer.

MHA's staff numbers approximately 120 and includes masters and bachelors level staff, non-degreed staff who have significant life experiences, and direct consumers of our programs. Currently, one third of our staff are consumers of mental health services. MHA also contracts with psychiatrists and nurse practitioners in several of our programs.

Volunteers assist those we serve in improving their quality of life, working with groups, individuals and with other service providers. These caring individuals contribute over 25,000 hours to our clients each year.

The Mental Health Association of Orange County was incorporated in 1958. If you are interested in learning about MHA's history, we have a special page for you.


Value and Philosophy

The Mental Health Association of Orange County provides all of its services within the context of a psychosocial rehabilitation philosophy. Our philosophy holds as its primary goal the elimination of functional deficits, interpersonal barriers, and environmental barriers created by mental illness, in an effort to restore the ability for independent living, socialization and effective life management. By addressing the practical and realistic elements of the consumer's needs such as coping and life skills, socialization and relationship formation, housing, transportation, education and employment, a supportive environment is created which encourages the consumer to make positive choices and experience growth.

The Mental Health Association believes that the diagnosed mental illness is but one element of the entire person. Though the illness may permeate most if not all aspects of the individual, strengths are retained and/or may have developed in response to the illness. Additional sources of strength for the individual may be found in his or her environment. Families, friends, service providers and community groups are encouraged to participate in the recovery process with the consumer.

The Mental Health Association recognizes that choice both in terms of the types of service available, or whether one wishes to involve themselves with a particular service is an important part of the recovery process. Our client-centered approach views the participation of the consumer in his or her rehabilitation as an essential element in the process. We believe the consumer should be responsible for the planning and implementation of services, and encourage them to make decisions about their own lives and our programming.

Programs for the seriously and persistently mentally ill must be as multi-faceted as they people they assist. For this reason, the Mental Health Association makes every attempt to offer a full continuum of care for consumers with a mental illness. We believe that the road to recovery begins on the streets, and progresses slowly towards stability, stopping many times along the way. If the consumer is to experience positive growth, we must be able to meet them at the intersection of their needs and abilities. This means that our services must be accessible, culturally competent, and sensitive to special needs.

We emphasize wellness rather than illness.

During this time of changing services in the mental health field, PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION (PSR) is gaining more attention. But what is this model of treatment and how is it different? PSR focuses on consumer strengths, needs and desires and is being recognized as a cost effective and productive model of services for those with psychiatric disorders. MHA embraces this philosophy which stresses consumer involvement and direction. In a recent contest of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, consumers, practitioners and family members competed for the best simple definitions of psychosocial rehabilitation.
Here are a few:

  • "Psychosocial rehabilitation is a program for persons with long-term mental illnesses to  explore and develop social, occupational, leisure, and living skills which will assist them in living as independently as possible in the community."
  • "Psychosocial rehabilitation means a place where people come to meet, to take a deep sigh; where they can relax and have feelings for each other, and listen to the birds outside. In doing so, they get better."
  • "Psychosocial Rehabilitation means that a person who before was afraid to go into a store to order an ice cream soda can now be an ice cream store manager."
All of us at MHA look forward to working together in helping those with mental illnesses to regain their dignity and their dreams through psychosocial rehabilitation programs.

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