Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission

photo of happy familySan Mateo County has an active Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission (MHSARC).  From its founding in 1958 until October 2010, the Commission was called the Mental Health Board. The Commission recognizes that mental illness and substance abuse are often co-occurring and interrelated, and supports the merger of Mental Health Services and Alcohol and Other Drug Services into the Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery Services.

The Commission consists of 19 members appointed by the Board of Supervisors representing family members, consumers/clients, professionals and interested residents. By State law, at least 50% of the members must be consumers or family member of mental health services. Members are appointed to three year terms, and may serve no more than 12 years. Contact the Board of Supervisors in you're interested in filling a vacant seat on the Commission. Consumers/clients may also contact BHRS administration at (650) 573-2544 to apply. Along with the 19 appointed members, there are two Youth Commissioners and a seat held by a member of the Board of Supervisors, or his/her representative. The functions of the Commission are set by State law and County resolution.

There are four elected officers of the Commission: a chair, vice chair, member at large, and a representative to the statewide California Association of Local Mental Health Boards/Commissions. Officers serve a one-year term with a maximum of three terms.

Current officers:

For a complete roster of officers for the MHSARC, visit our boards and commissions page.

Join the Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission

Current vacancies, Consumer/Client Application, Family Member/Public Application

Public Meetings:

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission

First Wednesday of each month (no meeting in August)
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 pm
Location:  Health Services Building, 225 W. 37th Ave, Room 100, San Mateo
Please call (650) 573-2544 to confirm time and locations as they may change or check the BHRS calendar.

Executive Committee

Third Tuesday of each month (no meeting in August)
3:30 - 5:00 pm at the San Mateo Health System, 225 37th Avenue, 3rd Floor, BHRS Conference Room, San Mateo

Age-Focused Committees

  • Older Adult Services Committee: First Wednesday of each month: 10:30 to 11:30 am
    Diamond Room, 225 37th Avenue, San Mateo
  • Adult Services Committee: First Wednesday of each month: 1:30 to 2:30 pm
    Diamond Room, 225 37th Avenue, San Mateo
  • Children and Youth Services Committee: Third Wednesday of each month: 4:00 to 5:00 pm
    Room 201 (in suite 200), 2000 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

All meetings are open to the public. Please call (650) 573-2544 to confirm time and locations as they may change.

Agenda & Minutes

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission: Executive Committee:






Three documents establish the authority and rules by which we operate. These are the California Welfare & Institutions Code §5604, Board of Supervisors Resolution 171051 and our bylaws. We conduct our meetings in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order.

The MHSARC reviews and evaluates the mental health and substance abuse recovery needs of consumers/clients and their families. It advises the Board of Supervisors and the local Behavioral Health Director concerning local mental health and substance abuse programs. It ensures that citizens and professionals are involved at all stages of the planning process. All members also sit on the Mental Health Services Act Steering Committee which the Commission Chair co-chairs. It reviews the Behavioral Health budget, conducts an annual performance audit, actively works to educate the public about mental health and substance abuse recovery to reduce stigma, and makes an annual report to the Board of Supervisors. Members also participate in a variety of community events, task forces, County initiatives and trainings.

The MHSARC meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 3:00 pm, except August when we do not meet.  Meetings are usually held at the Health Department, 225 37th Avenue, Room 100, San Mateo.  Occasionally meetings are held at other community sites as part of the Board's outreach efforts.  We encourage community members to attend the monthly meetings, which include timely presentations about the array of mental health and substance abuse programs and services provided within the County.  Public comments are encouraged and welcomed.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission Age-Focused Committees
The MHSARC has three age-focused committees that meet on the first Wednesday of the month prior to the 3 p.m. Board meeting.  The meetings are open to the public and participants usually consist of: the Mental Health Manager for the particular age group, MHSARC board members, various service agency representatives, providers, and interested community members.  These committees make occasional site visits to different locations and mental health and substance abuse programs throughout the County.  During these visits, committee members meet with staff, and when possible, clients and family members to engage in meaningful, informative dialogue.  This is one of the ways of promoting the County's commitment to providing excellence in delivery of care.

For questions about the Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission, please call (650) 573-2544.


Mental Health Consumer Hall of Fame - presented in January
San Mateo County's Mental Health Board chooses individuals each year who have found their way to a path of wellness and recovery from mental illness and have been active in the consumer movement to better the lives of other consumers in the county. Read the biographies of each Hall of Fame member.

Tony Hoffman Community Mental Health Service Award - presented in May
The Tony Hoffman Community Mental Health Services Award recognizes individuals, professionals, businesses, and the media who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with mental illness and the communities in which they live.  Recognition is given for public education or advocacy to promote mental health awareness and needs or to address stigma; public education and services to provide housing and employment for persons with mental illness; creation of new and innovative programs or community support activities; recognition of fundraising for mental health activities or long-term financial support to mental health programs; or working for new mental health legislation.  We also honor mental health consumers who, in their journey of recovery, are able to give back to their peers or the community.  Awards are presented each May during Mental Health Month. View a list of Tony Hoffman Award recipients.

David Lewis Award -  presented in September.  
This award is presented to an individual whose has made a significant contribution to substance abuse recovery through successful programs, community education, stigma reduction or client advocacy. David Lewis was a long-term employee of the San Mateo County Health System. He was the co-founder and president of the Board of Directors of “Free at Last”, a substance abuse treatment and prevention agency in East Palo Alto that seeks to break the cycle of addiction, rebuild families, foster education and economic self sufficiency, and contribute to the health and safety of the community. David was shot and died on June 9, 2010. Learn more about the David Lewis Award recipients.  Now accepting nominations for 2016. Nomination forms are due August 15, 2016

Honoring Family Award - now combined with the Tony Hoffman award above, starting in 2011
The Honoring Family Award recognizes San Mateo County family members or families, including individuals or groups in a supportive family role, for their contributions to improving the lives of families who are impacted by mental illness or behavioral health challenges, or inspiring others by their support of a loved one(s) who is on a path to wellness and recovery. Learn more about the recipients of the Honoring Family Award.

Please mail or fax your nomination forms to:
San Mateo County Mental Health Board
Behavioral Health and Recovery Services
Attn: Chantae Rochester
225 37th Avenue, 3rd Floor
San Mateo, CA 94403-4324
Ph: (650) 573-2544
Fax: (650) 573-2841

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission Annual Report