Closing the Disparities Gap

Women under 40, girls and many multi-cultural groups, in California, were less likely than males to receive mental health services. This finding was consistent for the Medi-Cal population, the population served through the Chapter 26.5 Special Education mandate and the public mental health population as a whole. Yet, research had found that mental disorders affected women and men almost equally. These findings were detailed in the WMHPC report, “Gender Matters in Mental Health: An Initial Examination of Gender-Based Data”.

In response to the findings in this report, the WMHPC launched its Closing The Disparities Gap Initiative. This Initiative focused on developing strategies to close the gap in access to mental health services for girls and women under 40, and was tailored to specifically target ethnic populations which appeared to be underutilizing mental health services.

Our initial strategies for this Initiative were:

  • Working with the California Department of Mental Health to improve the data collected on clients, particularly related to the caregiving responsibilities of mental health consumers, and to develop a more complete, integrated analysis of the services they may be receiving through other programs, departments.
  • Working with the California Department of Mental Health to routinely analyze data by gender, age, and ethnicity.
  • Initiating a collaborative effort to examine the relationship between mental health services and primary care services and ultimately to improve the access and/or referral to appropriate mental health services.