The Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition (REMHDCO) serves as the “Cultural Broker” for the CRDP.
To work towards the reduction of mental health disparities among racial & ethnically diverse communities through advocacy and policy change.
REMHDCO’s Vision Statement
- The Coalition will be an effective “agent for change” in the reduction of mental health disparities.
- Individuals from ethnically & racially diverse communities will be empowered by the Coalition to effectively reduce mental health disparities.
REMHDCO was formed in 2007 by a group of volunteers who were committed to reducing disparities for racial and ethnic communities. REMHDCO is a policy and advocacy organization, working primarily at the state level and focusing on issues regarding the Mental Health Service Act (or MHSA or Proposition 63). We are indebted to the late Rusty Selix, co-author of the MHSA, whose support and encouragement allowed REMHDCO to develop and succeed.
Our members are individuals from all over the state who work primarily at the local level with unserved/underserved/inappropriately served racial and ethnic communities.
Our Board of Directors is made up of outstanding representatives of racial and ethnic populations who have experience with their communities and in mental health. They have demonstrated commitment to reducing disparities for racial and ethnic communities. They are:
- Laurel Benhamida (Muslim American Society-Social Services Foundation) – Sacramento County
- Monica Blanco-Etheridge – Fresno County
- Jim Gilmer (Cyrus Urban Network) – Ventura County
- Lily Graham (Disability Rights California) – Orange County
- Rebecca (Becca) Gonzales – (National Association of Social Workers)
- Michael Helmick (former REMHDCO Staff Member) – Sacramento County
- Najeeb A. Kamil, MSW/MPA – Santa Clara County
- Nicki King, Ph.D., Former Lead for the African American Special Population Workgroup for Phase 1 of the CRDP – Yolo County
- Beatrice Lee, REMHDCO President (Diversity in Health Training Institute) – Alameda County
- Mel Mason, LCSW (The Village Project, Inc.) – Monterey County
- Ramona Valedez (Native Directions, Inc./Three Rivers Indian Lodge) – San Joaquin County
- Michelle White, JD (Affordable House Services) – Los Angeles County
REMHDCO and the CRDP
REMHDCO has been involved with the CRDP since its inception. REMHDCO met with Rachel Guerrero (then Chief of the Office of Multicultural Services) and Jennifer Clancy (then Executive Director of the MHSOAC) who were principles in the establishment of the CRDP. In addition, REMHDCO members were the main advocates representing racial and ethnic communities at the MHSOAC when the CRDP was initially approved and funded by that Commission.
- For Phase 1, REMHDCO members convinced the state to award grants to multiple community based organizations with experience in the five racial/ethnic/LGBTQ communities, instead of one organization.
- REMHDCO was awarded the contract to form and facilitate the California MHSA Multicultural Coalition (CMMC) for Phase 1 of the CRDP. REMHDCO was one of the seven partners for CRDP Phase 1. Beside representatives of the five special population workgroups (SPWs), the CMMC had representative members from other underserved populations including: the deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) community; older adult/senior communities; Armenian/Middle Eastern communities; Arab/Muslim communities; and others.
- The CMMC/REMHDCO were instrumental in advocating for keeping the Office of Multicultural Services intact and moving to the Office of Health Equity under the Department of Public Health instead of the Department of Health Care Services when the Governor dissolved the former State Department of Mental Health.
- REMHDCO was a leading partner in restoring the $60 million for the CRDP that had been lost by the former State Department of Mental Health.
On related note, Rusty Selix and REMHDCO were responsible for establishing the stakeholder advocacy grant for diverse racial and ethnic communities funded by the MHSA and administered by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC).
What Else Does REMHDCO Do?
REMHDCO serves as a bridge between advocates of racial and ethnic communities and advocates for the mainstream mental health community. Every month, REMHDCO facilitates the MHSA Partners Forum, an informal gathering of stakeholders from both governmental and community organizations who dialogue about any issues related to the MHSA. Anyone interested is allowed to participate so contact REMHDCO if you would like to receive meeting notices.