MHA is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt Orange County, CA based social services organization. All our programs serve adults with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders. Our annual budget is approximately $7.5 million. Our recent independent audits indicate that our administrative and fund raising expenses are just 10% of our total annual budget. With the other 90% of our funds we serve over 13,000 Orange County residents each year.
The organization’s foundation is its volunteer board of directors, comprised currently of 12 members of our community. These lawyers, business people, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, family members and consumers all come together to set policy for the agency, to ensure adequate resources, and to help us plan for our future. The board is also responsible for the employment and supervision of the Chief Executive Officer.
MHA’s staff numbers approximately 130 and includes masters and bachelors level staff, non-degreed staff who have significant life experiences, and direct consumers of our programs. Currently, one third of our staff are consumers of mental health services. MHA also contracts with psychiatrists and nurse practitioners in several of our programs.
Volunteers assist those we serve in improving their quality of life, working with groups, individuals and with other service providers. These caring individuals contribute over 25,000 hours to our clients each year.
The Mental Health Association of Orange County was incorporated in 1958. If you are interested in learning about MHA’s history, we have a special page for you.
The Mental Health Association of Orange County is dedicated to improving the quality of life of Orange County residents impacted by mental illness through direct service, advocacy, education and information dissemination.
The Mental Health Association of Orange County provides all of its services within the context of a psychosocial rehabilitation philosophy. Our philosophy holds as its primary goal the elimination of functional deficits, interpersonal barriers, and environmental barriers created by mental illness, in an effort to restore the ability for independent living, socialization and effective life management. By addressing the practical and realistic elements of the consumer’s needs such as coping and life skills, socialization and relationship formation, housing, transportation, education and employment, a supportive environment is created which encourages the consumer to make positive choices and experience growth.
The Mental Health Association believes that the diagnosed mental illness is but one element of the entire person. Though the illness may permeate most if not all aspects of the individual, strengths are retained and/or may have developed in response to the illness. Additional sources of strength for the individual may be found in his or her environment. Families, friends, service providers and community groups are encouraged to participate in the recovery process with the consumer.
The Mental Health Association recognizes that choice both in terms of the types of service available, or whether one wishes to involve themselves with a particular service is an important part of the recovery process. Our client-centered approach views the participation of the consumer in his or her rehabilitation as an essential element in the process. We believe the consumer should be responsible for the planning and implementation of services, and encourage them to make decisions about their own lives and our programming.
Programs for the seriously and persistently mentally ill must be as multi-faceted as they people they assist. For this reason, the Mental Health Association makes every attempt to offer a full continuum of care for consumers with a mental illness. We believe that the road to recovery begins on the streets, and progresses slowly towards stability, stopping many times along the way. If the consumer is to experience positive growth, we must be able to meet them at the intersection of their needs and abilities. This means that our services must be accessible, culturally competent, and sensitive to special needs.
We emphasize wellness rather than illness.
During this time of changing services in the mental health field, PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION (PSR) is gaining more attention. But what is this model of treatment and how is it different? PSR focuses on consumer strengths, needs and desires and is being recognized as a cost effective and productive model of services for those with psychiatric disorders. MHA embraces this philosophy which stresses consumer involvement and direction. In a recent contest of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, consumers, practitioners and family members competed for the best simple definitions of psychosocial rehabilitation.
Here are a few:
“Psychosocial rehabilitation is a program for persons with long-term mental illnesses to explore and develop social, occupational, leisure, and living skills which will assist them in living as independently as possible in the community.”
“Psychosocial rehabilitation means a place where people come to meet, to take a deep sigh; where they can relax and have feelings for each other, and listen to the birds outside. In doing so, they get better.”
“Psychosocial Rehabilitation means that a person who before was afraid to go into a store to order an ice cream soda can now be an ice cream store manager.”
All of us at MHA look forward to working together in helping those with mental illnesses to regain their dignity and their dreams through psychosocial rehabilitation programs.
Patty is a woman who had been living with untreated mental illness on the streets for many years. After initially meeting Patty in the homeless community at the Santa Ana Civic Center, MHA outreach worker, Juan Lopez attempted to persuade her to come to MHA’s multi-service center for help with no success. Juan continued to see her at various shelters and explain the benefits of treatment. It wasn’t until numerous subsequent attempts by Juan over a number of periods that Patty agreed to get help. Juan became her advocate, driving her to her medical appointments and care coordination meetings, as well as helping her secure housing. Today, Patty volunteers at the MHA’s Multi-Service Center, helping those who are on their own path to recovery.
JT is a 59 year old woman with a dual diagnosis, which includes severe depression. JT first came to MHA’s Homeless Drop-In Center in 2007, where her counselor found her housing at the American Family Housing’s Haven Shelter. After 2 years, due to loss of income, she ended back on the streets, but continued to get the support she needed from MHA. JT began to take business and art classes at a local community college and enrolled in Goodwill’s Back to Work program with the help and encouragement of MHA staff. She was selected by students at Chapman College’s film program to be the subject of a documentary focused on educating others about homelessness. Despite still being homeless, she felt valued and began feeling hopeful about the future.
The Housing Specialist at the MHA Multi-Service Center helped JT secure housing assistance from the Orange County Housing Authority and the Anaheim Housing Authority, which allowed her to finally have an affordable apartment. Things in her life had been so difficult for so long that she couldn’t imagine getting such an opportunity. The Counselor helped her manage her anxiety and depression throughout the process and helped her to remain positive.
The MHA staff gathered a multitude of items to get JT ready for her new home – towels, sheets, food and small appliances. JT moved into her new apartment and is happy that her daughter and grandchildren are able to visit her in a home. She feels grateful to MHA and plans to begin volunteering at the Multi-Service Center facilitating an art group for the members.
I was homeless for a month in November, 2012. I was in Orange County. I contacted the MHA outreach facility in Santa Ana off of Warner and Main. They helped with two hot meals a day and a shower. Christina, the housing specialist, located me housing and placed me there within two weeks. I then had money to pay rent. I am now volunteering at the SSI outreach in Santa Ana. I am happy to give back to an organization that helped me. It is also nice to know that MHA is there as a resource to help people get back on their feet again.
Minnie came to MHA’s Homeless program after struggling with hearing voices and paranoia that eventually caused her to become homeless. The program provided her with shelter, benefits and taught her about her mental illness and how to manage the symptoms. Minnie began to attend a support group at MHA that helped her connect with other people like her with schizophrenia and panic disorder. She began helping out at the MHA office by answering phones and managing mail as part of her therapy, which allowed her to overcome previously held fears.
Soon thereafter, MHA helped unite Minnie with her family, whom she talked to and educated on her mental illness. As a result, she and her mom began to volunteer with MHA to give back. Minnie began voluntarily running 18 groups out of her home under the Project Return program. It wasn’t long before MHA hired Minnie to direct these groups at one of their sites, making her a full time employee. She grew to oversee 6 programs and has recently celebrated her 25 year anniversary as a MHA employee. “MHA is like a big family,” says Minnie. “Working with MHA has been like my second home”.
Jeffrey A. Thrash, LMFT / Chief Executive Officer
Alek Drexler, CISSP / Chief Risk Officer
Edgar Rivera, LCSW / Director of Clinical Operations
Trisha McDaniel / Chief Financial Officer
Pamela Reed Presnall / Director of Development and Community Education
Annie McKnight / Human Resources Director
Please fax employment verification requests to: 714-640-5762
Alex Anhalt / Accounting
Renee Bidwell / Resource and Referrals / Administrative Assistant
Lt. Jennifer Amat, M.S.
Orange Police Department
Alysha Loumakis-Calderon, MPA
President & Chief Operating Officer
Isys Solutions, Inc.
Isa S. Hanna
Andrew Nguyen, M.A.
Budget & Performance Administrator
Anaheim Public Utilities
Rosemary Nielsen, LCSW
Vice President for Programs and Advocacy
Cities of Buena Park & Costa Mesa
Eric Nussbaum, J.D.
Gina Pastori, RPh.
Institutional Therapeutic Specialist
Sunovion Pharmaceutical, Inc.
World of Children
Margaret Riley, M.A.
Former Director of Recreation, Parks and Community Services
City of Buena Park
Vice President for Development
Wade Slome, MBA, CFA, CFP
Sidoxia Capital Management, LLC