OP-ED: The Mental Health Project


By James Lockett


This is the start of a series of articles discussing the intentional deception and misappropriation of funds that are designated for those living among us with a severe and persistent mental illness.




It is my assertion that these funds never really get into the hands of the people for whom they are intended. If we look at our social issues in our local and national communities, we would see and hear our mental health community–asking for help.


President Baraka Obama has created a new source of support for low-income citizens, called the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. This organization is a new light at the end of a here to fore hidden tunnel in our society–ethical organizational service credibility and veracity.


This writer characterizes some of the previous service organizations charged to protect the mental health community and provide a system of care as the old bait and switch game. This is because of the large gaps in the areas of personal protection and service.


One such organizations is the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commissions (MHSOAC). It is their responsibility to ensure that the Prop 63 or Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds are appropriately distributed in an effective manner.


This commission is supposed to consist of 16 individuals including aides from the governor. There has yet to be a person living with mental illness on this commission.


Further, there is no African American representation on the commission. African Americans are a sizable population within the mental health community in California.


This writer asks: “Why is this highly funded organization with a budget upwards of $800,000 plus making decisions about a cultural community in which it really have no understanding of African Americans wants, needs, fears and desires. This is what I mean by “bait and switch.”


How does this sound to you?


The MHSOAC has a variety of purposes and one of their primary mission is to ensure that the severely “mentally ill” (their word, I prefer mentally challenged) get the proper services so that they won’t have to eat out of garbage cans, sleep in doorways downtown (urinating and defecating) and walking up and down our streets talking to themselves and in a lot of cases become a threat to others and themselves.


At one time Oakland had a place called Oakland Independent Support Center (OISC) where individuals living with a mental health challenge could go during business hours to eat breakfast, shower, have lockers, get a haircut, get donated clothing, get computer skills, get food referrals, housing referrals, medical and psychiatric help as well as access to Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic Anonymous (NA) meetings.

OISC was the best mental health program in the entire Bay Area.


What made it so special is that it was completely run by peers and clients. OISC was a program supervised by Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services.


This writer was on the Board of Directors and worked there as an employee. OISC was closed and needs to be reopened but this time with the kinds of expanded services only available at a cultural center for people living with a mental health life and living challenge.


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