Supporting California’s behavioral health system

County behavioral health departments and their community allies are responding quickly to changing conditions and to the evolving understanding of COVID-19. Each day requires complex decisions, often with few precedents.

To help provide precise information to specific questions, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission is partnering with Social Finance to provide a mechanism for county officials to easily elevate issues, and to be connected to organizations or experts with responsive information or experience.

COVID-19 Rapid Response Network


The project is intended to help agencies resolve immediate concerns and provide information for anticipated challenges as service systems transition from crisis mode to a new normal. The project is designed to facilitate connections among counties facing similar challenges, and to supplement shared experience with support from external experts to deliver fast, customized, digestible research and analysis that strengthens local capacity. We anticipate and are prepared to take on a wide range of issues, from strategies for responding to outbreaks within homeless encampments, to best practices in virtual case management in supportive housing.

Inquiries will be submitted to a network managed by Social Finance, a non-profit national organization that supports governments to maximize their effectiveness. The network includes public agencies, academia, think tanks, philanthropies, and the research firm GLG, which is providing pro bono access to its expert platform of 700,000 professionals.

  • Submitting Inquiries. Counties may submit questions and information needs to Jake Segal ( or Sean Burpoe (
  • Recognizing demands on time, the Network team will spend five to 10 minutes on the phone with local agency staff to better understand each issue. For urgent issues, the team will strive to provide a response within 48 hours and can further refine the information as necessary. The team will strive to respond to less-urgent needs within five to seven working days.
  • Additional Resources. When multiple counties face similar challenges, the team will strive to meet those needs in several ways: identifying lessons from “leading edge” jurisdictions, conducting rapid-cycle literature reviews, and/or conducting interviews with national experts and summarizing the information in short issue briefs. Where valuable, the team may seek to organize group discussions.

Submit an Inquiry to Social Finance


Cross-Jurisdictional Resource Navigation

Cross-Jurisdictional Resource Navigation

This response outlines the frameworks and best practices for building a cross-jurisdictional resource navigation network.

Published: October 2020

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and emergency response planning

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Emergency Response Planning

This response outlines the impact of an emergency on young children and how organizations can best respond to support children and families with young children.

Published: October 2020

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Addressing Employee Burnout

This response covers the primary causes of employee burnout, the impact of remote work on employees, and challenges specific to working parents along with highlighting potential steps to reduce employee burnout.

Published: September 2020

Emergency Response Planning Cover

Emergency Response Planning

This response has tools, frameworks, and recommendations on how government organizations can plan for and respond to emergencies

Published: August 2020

Remote Work Costs and Benefits Cover

Remote Work Costs and Benefits

This response outlines the primary costs and benefits for organizations considering switching to remote work

Published: July 2020

Structuring a Telehealth Evaluation Cover

Structuring a Telehealth Evaluation

This response outlines the key steps in structuring a telehealth evaluation

Published: June 2020

Delivering Street Medicine Cover

References and Best Practices for Delivering "Street Medicine"

This document is intended to provide (1) Resources and (2) Best Practices for Street Medicine during COVID-19

Published: May 2020

Supporting Exit from Shelter Cover

Supporting Exit from Temporary Shelters during COVID-19

A proportion of the population experiencing homelessness is being housed within the system, and this may be a once-in-ageneration opportunity to move these individuals into permanent housing

Published: May 2020

Effects of Loneliness

Reducing the Effects of Loneliness and Isolation on Older Adults During COVID-19

Recommendations for encouraging older adults to stay connected and active

Published: May 28, 2020

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Recommendations for Supporting Staff In High-risk Environments During Crisis

Aiming to facilitate connections among jurisdictions facing similar challenges with support from external experts

Published: May 5, 2020

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COVID-19 Guidance for Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities

Response to a county behavioral health department as a part of the MHSOAC Rapid Response Network

Published: April 23, 2020

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Aggregated COVID-19 Response Procedures for Adults in Residential Care

The procedures have been aggregated from various health resources to outline initial response procedures upon presentation of COVID symptoms

Published: April 20, 2020

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Best Practices in Delivering Virtual School Based Counseling

Perspectives and resources for California school-based therapists

Published: April 16, 2020

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Housing Instability and Mitigation Policies in Response to COVID-19

Among the most critical economic impacts of COVID-19 is maintaining housing

Published: April 10, 2020

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COVID-19 Response: Isolation & Quarantine of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Conversations with 9 comparison jurisdictions suggests that capacity forecasting for isolation and quarantine units has been largely reactive

Published: April 2020

Design Considerations

Diversity of county needs. The project team recognizes the varied challenges, resourcing levels, and internal capacities among the counties. The objective is to truly understand the distinct county-based circumstances, in addition to service-related challenges, to provide actionable information at the policy and administrative levels.

Adaptiveness. An effort of this kind requires humility in predicting the nature and magnitude of challenges that counties face. The project partners anticipate rapid-cycle iteration on the support model itself to make the adjustments required to meet the changing needs of county agencies.

Interaction with other efforts. The Rapid Response Network is intended to supplement, rather than supplant, other efforts underway. The project will strive to make it as easy as possible for officials to identify and absorb the actionable resources—aiming for precision between a county’s needs and the information provided. For questions without clear answers, we will pursue additional research and consult national experts.

Scope. The project will attempt to support a wide range of issues. At the same time, the partnership recognizes its limitations. The project will not offer guidance on interpreting federal funding regulations or offer legal advice.


This is a time when policymakers are faced with constant and often unusual decisions; when capacity, always strained, has become scarce; and when speed matters. The partners in this project hope that this effort represents a frictionless support network for counties that are flexible to their needs and fast enough to support real-time decision making.

Who We Are

The Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission works through partnerships to catalyze transformational changes across service systems so that everyone who needs mental health care has access to and receives effective and culturally competent care. The role of the MHSOAC is to oversee the implementation of California’s Mental Health Services Act, as well as developing strategies to overcome stigma and advising the Governor and the Legislature on mental health policy.

Social Finance is a national mission-driven non-profit organization that works with federal, state, and county governments to drive resources toward results. Our work is focused on using data to inform social service delivery; creating strong, agile governance and adaptability mechanisms; focusing on measuring and managing to policy-relevant outcomes; and, where appropriate, linking payment to measured performance. Our staff brings together expertise in government, program evaluation, data science, consulting, finance, and law. Our California office is in San Francisco.