California Reducing Disparities Project

The California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) was founded in 2009 with the goal of achieving mental health equity for five priority populations in California: African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ+. The CRDP is funded through the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63), which was passed by voters in 2004. It is administered by the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health.

CRDP is a multiethnic coalition that champions community-driven solutions to reducing mental health disparities and it does it through advocacy, policy change and program development. As a coalition of diverse organizations—as a community—we have been able to amplify each other’s voices, coordinate our efforts and strengthen our individual and our collective impact.

The first phase of the CRDP focused on developing population-specific knowledge about mental health challenges in our communities and community-defined solutions. In partnership with our community members, we collected robust qualitative and quantitative data and published five rigorous population reports, which outline the major barriers and challenges to equitable mental health care as well as extant and innovative community-driven solutions for addressing the unique needs of our diverse communities.

Between 2012 and 2015, we worked with our communities and nonprofit partners to collaboratively author the trailblazing Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. Over 7,000 Californians participated in the research. The final Strategic Plan is community-driven and community-authored document that provides a roadmap for reducing mental health disparities in unserved, underserved, and inappropriately served communities through policy change. CPEHN served as the facilitator and writer for the report.

In the second phase of the CRDP, we are working to develop the capacity of community organizations to promote innovative community-based mental health practices, programs and approaches. Our goal is to empirically demonstrate that culturally and linguistically responsive programs, known as “community defined evidence practices” not only work but can reduce disparities and improve availability, quality, and outcomes of behavioral health care. Thirty-five grassroots organizations have been funded to conduct and evaluate population-specific approaches to mental health.

CPEHN is the education, outreach, and awareness contractor for this project. We oversee the programs, connect evaluators and stakeholders, and develop materials and messaging for a variety of audiences. In collaboration with media experts, we also create materials to support the CRDP community and promote community-defined mental health solutions.

Population Reports

Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities

CPEHN is excited to release the California Reducing Disparities Project: Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities.

The Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities was developed by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) alongside our partners representing diverse populations in California. The Strategic Plan is a community-driven and community-authored document that provides a roadmap for reducing mental health disparities in unserved, underserved, and inappropriately served communities.

Click the links below to download the report and executive summary. The executive summary is translated in Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

CRDP: Advancing Mental Health Equity Statewide Conference (April 2018)

Mental health and wellness is a critical issue for diverse communities, particularly in the current social and political climate. However, access to appropriate and effective services is limited for communities of color, limited English proficient communities, immigrants and refugees, and the LGBTQ community. This conference provided an opportunity for advocates, providers, consumers, and other community partners to collaborate and develop strategies for change.

Focus areas of the conference:

  • Learning about the development and recommendations of the California Reducing Disparities Project Strategic Plan
  • Hearing from local organizers and providers about best practices for community-defined programs and evaluations to serve diverse populations
  • Providing input about opportunities and challenges for policy change
  • Strengthening the network of mental health advocates in California and develop an equity framework



AB 512 (Ting): Cultural Competence in Mental Health (Vetoed)

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), the Steinberg Institute, #Out4MentalHealth, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), the California Black Health Network, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) are pleased to support and sponsor AB 512 (Ting), which requires counties to set forward-looking goals in their mental health cultural competence plans and requires the Department of Healthcare Services (DHCS) to annually review and monitor their progress.

Despite tremendous gains in mental health coverage,  communities of color and LGBTQ+  communities continue to experience disparities in quality and access to mental health treatment. This bill would ensure that counties have the guidance, expertise, and assistance they need to realize the intended purpose of cultural competence plan requirements—to actively respond to and reduce disparities in mental health outcomes.

For more information and ways to support:

Covered California

Covered California, California’s Health Benefit Exchange, currently provides health coverage for over 1.5 million Californians through contracted health plans. Covered California requires health plans to report on health care quality, outcomes, and disparities. Covered California recently commissioned a study to inform their health plan contracting which recognized the CRDP and the CRDP Strategic Plan as a key example of how to reduce health disparities. The report is available here. Discussion of the CRDP begins on page 31.

You can view upcoming Covered CA Board Meetings and get involved here.

The Department of Health Care Services

The Department of Health Care Services operates Medi-Cal, California’s health care coverage program for nearly 13 million residents, a majority communities of color. DHCS oversees county mental health plans as well  as the mental health responsibilities of Medi-Cal managed care plans. DHCS is required to annually produce a strategy for improving health care outcomes and quality in the program. Advocates, including CPEHN, have urged DHCS to include health equity as a key component of the strategy. The draft 2020 strategy was released for public comment on November 18th and contains an important commitment to working with the Office of Health Equity and the CRDP to develop and implement mental health disparities initiatives. The draft strategy is available here. Discussion of mental health disparities begins on page 23. You can submit comments on the strategy until December 23, 2019.

DHCS also hosts a Behavioral Health Stakeholder Advisory Committee which meets quarterly. Public comment time is provided. You can learn more and get involved here.

The Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC)

The Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) is an independent commission responsible for providing leadership and oversight of California’s mental health services, particularly the Mental Health Services Act. The MHSOAC approves county innovations projects, among other responsibilities. The MHSOAC provides resources for stakeholder advocacy, including for diverse racial and ethnic communities. This RFP opportunity will be opening on December 2nd. Learn more by reviewing this meeting packet, beginning on page 172, here.

You can also get involved by participating in MHSOAC meetings and committee meetings by visiting here.


Of California’s population will be composed of communities of color by 2030


Of Black Californians are diagnosed with a serious mental illness, while the average is 4.2%


Of Californians whose primary language is Spanish sought mental health help, compared to 3% of English speakers