MHA Village
Antelope Valley Services
Homeless Assistance Programs
Transition Age Youth Services
Operation Healthy Homecoming
Wellness Center
Homeless Innovations Project
Homeless Connections Initiative

...promoting lives of purpose and possibility, pioneering a national model

 News to Note...
We are included in former First Lady Rosalynn Carter's latest book, called "Within our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis." The book has a chapter called "Recovery: The Way of the Future," and she writes about the MHA Village.

Mrs. Carter describes us as "one of the best model programs for helping people who are homeless, penniless and unable to manage their illness…reach productive lives." She said that "outcomes of the program have exceeded all expectations… Today, the MHA Village is a model for recovery-oriented programs throughout California and the rest of the country."

We're honored by this recognition.


By tailoring services to the people we help and training professionals in our model, the MHA Village is making a lasting impression on mental health programs across the nation. Located in Long Beach, California, the MHA Village serves adults and young adults with mental illness.

We began our program in 1990 after California’s mental health department chose MHA to design and demonstrate an innovative service system built on an “integrated services” approach. We brought together all the services and support people with mental illness need to live, work, learn and be involved in the community. In 1999, this became the model for AB 34 projects – comprehensive care for people with mental illness who are homeless, leaving jail or at risk of homelessness or incarceration. Integrated services is the approach for adult mental health recovery in the Mental Health Services Act, passed by California voters in 2004.

The MHA Village has earned recognition for its effectiveness and emerged as a national model. We incorporate many types of mental health care – treatment, rehabilitation, self-help, and family/community involvement. To these, we integrate our enhancements: an emphasis on choice, equality between staff and the people we serve, encouragement of continued growth and an environment of “high risk/high support.” We identify “quality of life” outcomes – measuring living, work, education, finance and social goals – to ensure effectiveness and accountability.


The MHA Village focuses on recovery from mental illness. In his book, “A Road to Recovery,” founding Village psychiatrist Mark Ragins, M.D., presents his concept that recovery has four stages – hope, empowerment, self-responsibility and a meaningful role in life.

Recovery begins with a positive vision of the future. Hope is most motivating when it takes form as a real, reasonable image of what life can look like. Individuals need to see possibilities – getting a job, earning a diploma, having an apartment – before they can make changes and take steps forward.
To move ahead, individuals need a sense of their capabilities. Hope needs to be focused on what they can do for themselves. To be empowered, they need access to information and the opportunity to make their own choices. At the Village, individuals choose the types of services they want using our “menu” of options.
As individuals move toward recovery, they realize they need to be responsible for their own lives. This comes with trying new things, learning from mistakes and trying again. We encourage individuals to take risks, such as living independently, applying for a job, enrolling in college or asking someone out on a date.
  A meaningful role in life
To recover, individuals must have a purpose in their lives separate from their illness. They need to apply newly-acquired traits such as hopefulness, confidence and self-responsibility to “normal” roles such as employee, neighbor, graduate and volunteer. Meaningful roles help people with mental illness “get a life.”

Read more: Our MHA Village web site, has “A Road to Recovery” available for free download as well as information on how to order the book.

Philosophy and Principles

We believe that the goal of mental health recovery is full integration into all aspects of community life. Our principles have earned the MHA Village national respect as an “exemplary practice” and recognition for its “best practices” in our own state. These include:

  Client choice
With our “menu approach,” we provide services based on individuals’ own goals. They choose what services they want and the staff members with whom they would like to work. We de-emphasize traditional “professional” to “patient” relationships and respect individuals as equal partners in their recovery.
  Quality of life
We focus on areas – living, work, education, finance and social goals – that address all parts of individuals’ lives. These areas are those that often form the core of an individual’s participation in community life.
  Community focus
We believe that living, learning and working should be done through integration rather than segregation. Our staff spends most of its time out of the office, supporting individuals as they pursue their quality of life goals.
  Whatever it takes
Village services are available on a continuous basis. On a rotating basis, our staff can be reached around-the-clock for crises. We follow a “no-fail” approach. We do not transfer individuals out because of the challenges they pose. Because we demonstrate such a high level of commitment to them, they have a higher level of commitment to the program – and to their own goals.


Our services are provided by teams of mental health professionals and paraprofessionals, with specialists in employment, money management, community involvement and substance abuse recovery. Our staff includes individuals who have recovered from mental illness.

The Village considers all its staff – management, treatment, case management and employment staff – recovery workers. They promote quality of life services, instead of illness services; use engagement and collaboration, instead of coercion; and involve people with mental illness in every aspect of their treatment and recovery.

  Personal Service Plans
Our teams help individuals create and carry out customized plans by selecting from psychiatric care, employment, housing assistance, substance abuse recovery, health, financial, education and social support options.
  Psychiatric Care
We use a “collaborative psychiatry” approach, through which each individual works with a Village psychiatrist, and we emphasize collaboration and choice. We help individuals learn about medication and symptoms. This puts them in control of their illnesses, makes them partners in their treatment, and lets them pursue their work, living, education and social goals.
With a “menu” that offers a rich range of work options, we help individuals choose, get and keep jobs. Our in-house businesses provide time-limited paying jobs and work experience. We offer work-for-a-day, casual labor and seasonal work options. The core of this service is work in the community. We help individuals locate possible jobs, help them get hired, and coach them on and off the work site.
  Substance Abuse Recovery
In our services for individuals who have both mental illness and substance abuse problems, we help them reduce the harm caused by substance abuse while working with them toward the goals of sobriety and recovery. Our aim is to help individuals recognize how their goals are impacted by substance abuse, offer action steps toward sobriety and prevent relapses through involvement in community 12-step groups.
  Housing Assistance
We draw on MHA’s housing options and community resources to provide a full range of choices, along with resources for special needs, such as substance abuse residential treatment or sober living homes.
  Financial Services
Our staff help individuals learn to become responsible for their own finances. We train them in how to develop a budget, open a bank account, balance a checkbook and shop.
  Community Involvement
To help individuals become active in the world outside the Village, we encourage them to plan social events and take part in a wide assortment of community activities. We help them learn about and use local resources, coaching them in areas such as expected dress and behaviors to help them feel at ease.


Our MHA Village was recognized by the past two presidential administrations. In 2002, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health selected our program as a model to study as it researched and recommended “programs that work.” In 2000, President Clinton’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities called our work training and job placement program a best practice.

Among other national awards, the American Psychiatric Association honored us in 2000 with the Gold Achievement Award, its highest distinction for community-based services. The same year, our MHA Village director received a lifetime achievement award from the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. In 1998, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration designated our program as an exemplary practice, which has paved the way for organizations to receive federal funds to learn how to replicate our model.

In our home state, the MHA Village – working with the outreach provided by our Homeless Assistance Program and options of our Housing Department – earned recognition as a best practice in the 2002 “California’s Programs to Address Homelessness” prepared by the California Department of Mental Health for the governor.

A Los Angeles Times editorial series on homelessness and mental illness, which won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize, commended the Village’s success in helping individuals “get the support and strive for independence.” The Long Beach Press-Telegram credits us with “helping several hundred mentally ill homeless … become self-supporting members of the community.” Our honors sections lists more of the MHA Village’s awards.


The MHA Village provides services through contracts with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and California Department of Rehabilitation. We have received support for special projects through the generosity of Long Beach foundations such as the Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation, Pacific Hospital of Long Beach Charitable Trust and Will J. Reid Foundation.

Contact Us

Please visit the MHA Village’s web site,, for more details about what we do, information on our training program, and downloads of Dr. Ragins’ book and other writings.

The MHA Village is located at 456 Elm Avenue in Long Beach, California. Its phone number is 562-437-6717.

Mental Health America of Los Angeles   Administration Offices
100 W.Broadway, Suite 5010   Long Beach, CA 90802-2310
888-242-2522, ext. 225

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