Your rights to mental health care in California

Did you know?

Mental health conditions are more common than you think. Here are some key facts:

  • 1 in 5 adults in the US experience a mental illness; in Santa Clara County, that’s about 340,000 adults – or enough people to fill Levi’s Stadium five times.
  • 1 in 6 youth in the US aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. In Santa Clara County, that’s around 68,000 young people.

Mental health care is covered at the same level as other health conditions.

This is called mental health parity. In California, the law requires that commercial insurance plans provide the same level of coverage for mental health services as they do for physical health services. Unfortunately, many people don’t know their rights to care and coverage.

Learning how to access mental health care, understanding your rights to receive necessary mental health care, and knowing what to do if you encounter problems can make a difference for you or someone you care about.

To learn more, visit the Additional Resources section below, where you can find more information about:

  • How common mental health conditions are and how to recognize signs and symptoms.
  • Your rights to mental health care.
  • Steps and resources to access care, and what to do if you encounter problems.

Are you interested in bringing this information to your group or organization?

If so, please contact

Additional Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness I Santa Clara County

  • Offers support and guides community members to mental health resources, such as finding a provider.
  • Call the NAMI Helpline at 408-453-0040 x1 M-F 10am-6pm to talk to Helpline staff and get one-on-one guidance on navigating mental health care.

Bay Area Legal Aid

  • Offers legal advice on health access related issues like, plan enrollment, termination, coverage denial.
  • Visit Bay Area Legal’s website or call the Bay Legal Health Consumer Center at 855-693-7285.

California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC)

County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services

  • An entry point for access to all Santa Clara County behavioral health services. Provides support for individuals and families who are in crisis, considering suicide, or struggling with mental illness, substance use, or both.
  • Visit the County’s Behavioral Health Services website or call the Behavioral Health Call Center at 1-800-704-0900.

If you are covered by a plan under one of the insurers below, visit their webpage to find providers, the number to call for questions or issues accessing care, or to find out more about your coverage.


We understand that many people need mental health services, but getting the help they require is often challenging. That’s why the County of Santa Clara Health System, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Santa Clara, Bay Area Legal Aid (Bay Legal), and partners in the Mental Health Parity Workgroup created an educational presentation and helpful tools. These resources are meant to inform our community about their right to access essential mental health care and guide them through the process.