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California organizations to start center for dignity, social inclusion and stigma elimination

October 25, 2011
by News release
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San Franciso — The Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) has completed contract negotiations with the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) to fund two 3-year contract projects via the new California Center for Dignity, Social Inclusion and Stigma Elimination (the Center).

The two projects, Resource Development and Promising Practices Programs, both Prevention and Early Intervention programs administered by CalMHSA, are funded by the voter approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).

The Center is a partnership of MHASF and major research institutions including the University of California Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment (NCSE).

"Stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with mental health are not generally seen as public health concerns. But their effects are devastating to lives and communities everywhere," says Eduardo Vega, Executive Director of MHASF and the Center's Director.

One project focuses on bringing leading-edge research in stigma-reduction strategies into practice statewide. The other will engage with California's culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse communities to examine strengths, resources and culturally specific attitudes.

As Dr. Patrick Corrigan describes it this is an historic opportunity: "This Center has the potential to make a huge difference in people's lives by working in partnership with communities across California to advance what we know works to counter these stigmatized views."

"Identifying community-based promising practices that deal with stigma and social exclusion is an area in which we will be really breaking new ground," says Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, co-Principal Investigator of the Promising Practices Programs.

Taken together these two programs will enable the Center to advance stigma and discrimination reduction and enable social inclusion across California, and to lead the field nationally and internationally in approaches grounded in up-to-date research on attitude change.

The Resource Development and Promising Practices Programs, both Prevention and Early Intervention programs administered by CalMHSA, are funded by the voter approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).

CalMHSA is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA operates services and education programs on a statewide, regional and local basis.

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