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Social Indicators in Statewide Mental Health Planning: Lessons from California

Lorrin M. Koran and Kenneth Meinhardt
Social Indicators Research
Vol. 15, No. 2 (Aug., 1984), pp. 131-144
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27521234
Page Count: 14
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Social Indicators in Statewide Mental Health Planning: Lessons from California
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Abstract

The 1963 Community Mental Health Centers Act stimulated state government interest in assessing local needs for mental health services. In 1973 California began using 22 social indicators to calculate a county-by-county mental health service Need Index used in a formula for distributing incremental mental health funds. California's Need Index is misleading in that 99 percent of its variance across counties is explained by counties' population sizes alone. Stepwise multiple linear regression shows that 99 percent of the residual one percent of the variance in Need Index is explained by a mere five of the 22 social indicators. California's Need Index does not, therefore, represent adequately the factors influencing the need for public mental health funds. Methods for overcoming the defects in Need Index are suggested. Caveats and contextual analyses to guide social-indicator-based allocation of mental health funds are discussed.

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