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Mental Health Stigma & Discrimination Reduction Project

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2012 Advisory Group group photoAdvisory Group

Disability Rights California’s Advisory Group is critical to the completion of the CalMHSA Stigma and Reduction Project deliverables. They help us make decisions, choose the direction of the Project within the parameters of our scope of work and keep us on track as we develop materials, training, evaluations and policy papers.

General Responsibilities

The advisory group is committed to:

  • helping us complete our deliverables;
  • thoroughly examining materials;
  • thoughtfully dialoguing about mental health issues from a broad perspective rather than from a personal one;
  • carefully providing us with input that represents the Advisory Group's best collective thinking.

Contract Specific Responsibilities

The Advisory Group must be composed of stakeholders from culturally and age diverse groups, including consumers and family members and other stakeholders such as schools and colleges, employers, landlords, the faith-based community, first responders, county health and behavioral health providers and public entities.

The Advisory Group will help identify and prioritize communities in need of Disability Rights California’s legal topic fact sheets, outreach and training.

The Advisory Group will give guidance and help prioritize legal topic areas for fact sheets, training, legal analysis and policy paper development, including help identifying and prioritizing languages for translation of materials.

The Advisory Group will review and provide input on selected materials developed to fulfill our deliverables.Each Mind Matters Logo image

The Advisory Group will consult with us in the development of specific policy paper topics; possible topic areas, among others, are mental health parity and the impact of health care reform on Californians with mental illness, local or state laws and policies that restrict location of mental health services or living arrangements, and a review of law enforcement’s treatment of people with mental health challenges. The policy papers will include recommendations for specific policy changes, including steps for implementation of change. Recommendations for specific policy changes and steps to implement the change will be developed in consultation with the Advisory Committee, our sub-contractors and CalMHSA.

The Advisory Group will help us engage stakeholders, including community, consumers, families and people from different regions, ethnicities and ages in program evaluation procedures and activities.


Advisory Group Biographies:

Fatima Carmen Baldizon has worked as a Parent Advocate for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for the greater part of the past 10 years. In February 2010, she embarked on the Anti-Stigma and Discrimination Project, an Early Start Project in the Prevention and Early Intervention Plan, funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). She contributed towards the MHSA Stakeholders’ process in development of the children’s and transitional-age youth plans by participating in a multitude of committees and workgroups, giving input from the parents’ perspective.

Ms. Baldizon has represented the parent’s voice at the policy level as well by participating in Mental Health America, Children’s’ Spa Council, churches, schools, probation, Los Angeles County of Children & Family Services (DCFS), and various mental health providers.

Belanie Brown chairs the Los Angeles County DMH Clergy Advisory Speakers’ Bureau to bring together faith leaders, community leaders, advocates and experts to make presentations on various topics to help eliminate stigma and discrimination and to help increase mental health awareness, cultural competency, and community support. This is done on four tiers: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

Ms. Brown has developed and written statewide managed care training programs in accordance to California assembly and senate bills for the CA Department of Health Services, contracted Health Maintenance Organizations, and mental health providers.

David France, M.A. is an individual/husband/father who was diagnosed over twenty years ago with a mental health disability. During that time, he has participated in extensive recovery and wellness activities and considers himself living well with the diagnosis. He received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Sonoma State University and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from The Wright Institute in Berkeley. He is nearing completion of his 3,000 hours of clinical training for licensure as an MFT and hopes to serve as an authentic living example of hope to those he meets.

Mr. France continues to serve as the Program Director for NAMI in Sonoma County and as a part of his duties, oversees their affiliate’s participation in NAMI California's Stigma and Discrimination Reduction program, funded through CalMHSA.

Diana Honig went to UCLA for undergrad and graduated from UC Davis King Hall School of Law in 1994. She began working at Disability Rights California (then called Protection and Advocacy Inc. (PAI)) as a Law Clerk in her second year in law school, and subsequently worked as attorney at DRC for over 10 years. Diana resigned when her twins, who are now seven, were born.

In addition to serving as Board Liaison on our Advisory Group, she is a member of our Board of Directors and is also a board member of Twins by the Bay, a support group for parents of multiples. Other interests include running, yoga and meditation.

Diana became determined to practice disability rights law after being diagnosed with learning disabilities after her first year in law school. During her 10 years at Disability Rights California, she focused her work on addressing discrimination in housing, employment, higher education and public accommodations, obtaining assistive technology, running the Voting Rights program and litigating the Capital People First case which dealt with community integration issues.

Jennifer Denise Jones, a consumer herself, is the Consumer Affairs Manager for California’s Santa Clara County. She has incorporated Peer Support in her program including clinic Peer Mentors, Self Help, Peer Advocacy in restricted treatment settings and developing Peer Support Design, all in the process of implementing Mental Health Services Act consumer involvement. She also is a member of the Client Family Leadership Committee (CFLC) for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC).

Myra K. Levenson graduated from Wellesley College with a major in psychology and received a Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Harvard. She was a marriage and family therapist in Tucson for more than 20 years, working in both private practice and community agency settings. In 1994, she entered Hastings College of the Law and received a JD degree. Until retirement a few years ago, she worked as an attorney representing Social Security and SSI claimants who had been denied benefits. Many of those clients had a primary or secondary mental health disability.

Since moving to Marin County in 1995, Ms. Levenson served on the Marin County Mental Health Board as member and chair for 9 years. She has continued to work as an advocate for mental health services, serving on the Marin Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) Implementation Committee and the Prevention and Early Intervention Committee. Additionally, she has a family member with mental illness and has witnessed the power of stigmatization as an obstacle to obtaining help.

Alysa Solomon, P.H.D. has worked for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LAC/DMH) since 2001. A licensed clinical psychologist in California, she has provided wellness services at a collaborative with probation and LACOE (Los Angeles County Office of Education) in Compton, at Harbor/UCLA Department of Psychiatry as well as in an adult outpatient clinic in West Los Angeles. Currently, she works on a LA County-wide quality improvement project to reduce the rate of restraints and seclusion.

Dr. Solomon leads high-profile social inclusion campaigns for LAC/DMH including co-producing prime-time aired Public Service Announcements (PSA) and web-based Public Service Interviews (PSI) with individuals such as Dr. Elyn Saks of USC Gould School of Law, Metta World Peace of the Los Angeles Lakers, Nathaniel Ayers, and Steve Lopez from the book and movie ‘The Soloist.’

Joy Stern has worked with adults with developmental disabilities that have mental health disabilities by developing programs that emphasizing self-advocacy, empowerment and diversity. In addition to managing and developing multiple day programs in the Northern California area, she has worked closely with members and advisors from the People First Movement and the Supported Life Institute.

Personal experience from the sting of mental health stigma has given her a passionate commitment to breaking through the barriers of discrimination, for herself and others. Her approach to educating the public on these subjects is supported by her experience in video production and documentary filmmaking. She has used her collaborative leadership style to develop and maintain multiple advocacy groups and consumer advisory committees.

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