California’s protection & advocacy system

For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA

or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.

Peer Self-Advocacy

In the Peer Self-Advocacy program (PSA), individuals with mental health disabilities share experiences and help their peers speak up, make decisions, help each other and live the lives they choose. We reach out and provide self-advocacy groups and trainings where people live and in the community. The PSA knows that change can and does happen.


PSA Staff photo, 2017
Peer Self-Advocacy Program staff members (from left to right). Back row: Jenny Olson, Monica Gallegos, Alicia Mendoza, Babs Acosta, Leslie Napper, Debi Davis, Linda Naranjo. Front row: Senobia Pichardo, Margaret Johnson, Robyn Gantsweg.

California Memorial Project

We help fight the mental health stigma and discrimination we experience as peers by remembering those who came before us. Our California Memorial Project holds annual Remembrance Day ceremonies on the third Monday of September. These ceremonies honor people with mental health and developmental disabilities who lived and died in state institutions without the acknowledgement and respect they deserved. We also place memorial monuments throughout the state on hospital grounds or local cemeteries where people from these institutions were buried. Our plans include restoring these cemeteries, collecting personal stories from people who lived in institutions and creating a video about the project and the history of the peer movement. California Memorial Project website:



Housing Rights

“Irene” participates in the “El Progreso” self-advocacy group at a mental health clinic. She applied for Section 8 housing a few years ago and recently moved into a third floor apartment. She was happy to have her own home, but she was in poor health due to a heart condition. It was nearly impossible to walk up three flights of stairs. After she told group members about this, the group learned about housing rights and reasonable accommodations. We reviewed and discussed several DRC publications, including “Supportive Housing under the Mental Health Services Act,” “Providing Reasonable Modifications to Tenants with Mental Health Disabilities,” and “Tenants with Mental Health Disabilities: The Right to Reasonable Modifications in Housing.” After learning her rights, Irene wrote a letter to management specifying all the accommodations she needed. Within a month, she moved from the third floor to the first floor. The group celebrated her success and saw change can and does happen when you know your rights.

Moving to the Community

A bilingual PSA group member wanted to get out of a locked facility to care for his mother. We provided information about challenging an LPS conservatorship. As a result, “Jose” learned steps to get off conservatorship and move into the community. He developed a discharge plan that included talking with his doctor about his medications and getting third party assistance to show the court he could provide for his food, clothing and shelter. He asked his pastor help by reminding him to take his medication and identify community support groups. Jose wanted to get training at the community college in auto maintenance. We gave him information about Department of Rehabilitation services and how they might help him attend school. We also gave him information about the Client Assistance Program to help him advocate for what he needed.

With knowledge and skills he gained from attending the self-advocacy group, Jose successfully developed a plan to live independently in the community.



Peer / Self Advocacy Program brochure (pdf) (March 2013, Pub #5520.01) or Accessible RTF version

Introduction to Self-Advocacy (htm) (pdf) (February 2008, #5070.01)

Peer/Self Advocacy Training Manual (December 1997, #5066.01)

Tips for Effective Advocacy (pdf) (rtf) (April 2014, #5032.01)

Peer Support Services are Integral to Mental Health Recovery (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM15.01, December 2012) Also available in Spanish (pdf) Korean (pdf) Chinese (pdf) and Russian (pdf)

Spiritual or Religious Interests in Mental Health Recovery (pdf) (rtf) (Pub #CM14.01, November 2013) Also available in Spanish (pdf) Korean (pdf) Chinese (pdf) and Russian (pdf)

Client Driven Mental Health Services (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM09.01, September 2012) Now also available in Spanish (pdf) Korean (pdf) Chinese (pdf) and Russian (pdf)

Definitions of Stigma and Discrimination Fact Sheet (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM04.01, July 2012) Now also available in Spanish (pdf), Korean (pdf), Chinese (pdf), Vietnamese (pdf), Cambodian (pdf), Russian (pdf), Armenian (pdf), and Arabic (pdf)

A Stereotype that Harms People with Mental Health Challenges (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM07.01, July 2012) Now also available in Spanish (pdf), Korean (pdf), Chinese (pdf), Vietnamese (pdf), Cambodian (pdf), Russian (pdf), Armenian (pdf), and Arabic (pdf)

People First Language in Mental Health Fact Sheet (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM02.01, April 2012) Now also available in Spanish (pdf), Korean (pdf), Chinese (pdf), Vietnamese (pdf), Cambodian (pdf), Russian (pdf), Hmong (pdf), Armenian (pdf), and Arabic (pdf)

Tips Towards Plain Language Fact Sheet (pdf) (rtf) (html) (Pub #CM01.01, April 2012) Also available in Spanish (pdf)

What is “Recovery” in Mental Health? (pdf) (rtf) (Pub #CM55.01, November 2014)



Anonymous no more, Ukiah Daily Journal, 9/21/11

Forgotten residents of Mendocino State Hospital are commemorated, The Press Democrat, 9/19/16

Napa State Hospital remembers deceased patients, Napa Valley Register, 9/19/16

Patton State Hospital Remembrance Ceremony, Highland News, 9/18/17



Senate Bill 1448 (2002) - California Memorial Project -

Senate Bill 258 (2006) – California Memorial Project -

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 123 (2010) - California Memorial Project Remembrance Day -

Assembly Bill 1470 (2012) – Budget bill modifying CMP statute -


Helpful Links

National Empowerment Center -

JAN - Job Accommodation Network -

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance -

National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse -

PEERS - Peers Envisioning & Engaging in Recovery Services -

Easy Voter Guide -

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law -

Disability Benefits 101 (DB101 California): Working with a Disability -

2017 Social Security Redbook -