The POCC is a program of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Office of Consumer Empowerment



Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Alameda County residents who have mental health issues, and to provide the consumer perspective in transforming Alameda County Mental Health Services with a recovery vision that is consumer-driven, culturally competent, and holistic in its services & supports.  We provide a strong consumer voice in the mental health system and in the community.

POCC Updates and Events

Stay up to date with all the latest POCC news and upcoming events.

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Greetings, POCC members.

The following information/invitation comes to you from PEERS: The Wellness Recovery Action Plan® is a personal wellness system that can help you improve your quality of life by taking care of yourself in ways that are right for you.

This month's orientation will help to increase our chances for wellness. It's for anyone who would like to learn more about WRAP® and who might be interested in attending a weekly WRAP® support group.

Thursday, September 23rd 2021 10am - 12pm Pacific Time

Click Here To Register
We really appreciate your support.
  • POCC Asian American Committee – Contact Adrianne at (510) 639-1341.
  • Crisis Support Services of Alameda County: Toll free crisis line number: 1-800-309-2131.
    To access our text line:
    TEXT "SAFE" TO 2012
    Hours: 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. 7 days a week. Alameda County residents only
    Fees: No charge from Crisis Support Services. Text STOP to opt out.
  • Oakland Asian Cultural Center
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • Asian American Pacific Islander Women Lead
  • Cross Cultural Solidarity Project
  • Article: How Racism and White Supremacy Fueled a Black-Asian Divide
  • Asian Health Center
  • Asian Health Center Chronicles
  • Vietnamese Community Center of the East Bay
  • Heiwa Taiko
  • Oakland Chinatown Coalition Facebook Group
  • Kehilla Synagogue – A Synagogue for Liberation and Jews of Color
  • Asians with Attitude – Check on YouTube for multiple videos, presentations and AWA gear.
  • The Asian American Bar Association compiled this resource guide –
    It’s fairly comprehensive and includes direct service, training tips for allies, incident reporting, upcoming events, online resources, and other recommended reading.

The Pool of Consumer Champions History by Jay Mahler 

I am extremely proud to be a member of the Pool of Consumer Champions (“POCC”). The POCC is the most effective effort that has ever occurred in California involving persons with lived experience to have a voice in shaping the planning and implementation of mental health programs at the County level. A huge thank you to the Consumer Relations Team, Behavioral Health Care Administration, and especially to the hundreds of POCC members who have volunteered their time over the years to make the POCC effective. The following is a history of the POCC focusing on the early years. 

The POCC was started to make sure that the consumer viewpoint was a significant part of Behavioral Health Care’s decisions on the allocation of Mental Health Services Act (“MHSA”) funds, and to advocate for consumer-run programs to receive MHSA funding. Before I started the job in August 2006 as Consumer Relation’s Manager and a member of the Mental Health Director’s executive management team, I read Behavioral Health Care’s MHSA community service plan and was greatly disappointed that not one penny went to consumer-run programs. 

Previously, I was very involved working at the State level with MHSA, and was aware of the goal to have MHSA dollars go to consumer-run programs. So, I was very committed to correct the mistake in Alameda County. Instead of agonizing over the mistake, I started organizing the POCC. 

 The next MHSA allocation that the County was planning was for Prevention and Early Intervention dollars. Under this, funding campaigns to combat stigma and discrimination would be eligible. As we started to get members to join the POCC, our main focus was to get funding for PEERS to have an anti-stigma campaign. We organized a conference on stigma entitled, “Breaking the Ties That Bind.” We made sure that consumers were on the planning committee that would recommend MHSA funding to the County. We wrote a proposal for funding the anti-stigma campaign. We did a survey on the issues of stigma and discrimination. We wore yellow T-shirts and spoke at all the MHSA planning meetings. Our goal was to get $750,000 to go to PEERS for a campaign, and our efforts paid off. We were actually able to get $965,000. 

 In order to develop the POCC, there were several important structures that needed to be in place, requiring adequate resources. We were very fortunate that we had extremely strong support from Dr. Marye Thomas and Barbara Majak, who were able to allocate resources for the POCC. About a year after I was hired, they permitted me to hire a Consumer Relations Team (now called the “Consumer Empowerment Department”) that would provide support to POCC committees and ensure that the consumer perspective was part of Behavioral Health Care’s planning efforts. They supported the hiring of Gwen Armstrong, Adrianne DeSantis, Sally Zinman, Sabirah Mustafa and Sharon Kuehn. 

 A key aspect of our operation was to provide stipends for POCC members to participate in systems-change activities. Eighty-four thousand dollars were allocated for POCC stipends. Another key developmental step was to provide resources for POCC members to be trained to be effective consumer advocates. Eighty thousand dollars were allocated to send POCC members to the following conferences: California Network of Mental Health Clients (“CNMHC”), CASRA, CIMH Cultural Diversity Forum, and the national Alternatives Conference. 

It was also important to provide food for consumers at trainings and meetings. Eventually, Behavioral Health Care provided $14,000 for food. In December 2006, members were first recruited to join the POCC. In the spirit of “Nothing about us without us,” we formed a steering committee representing the consumer community of Alameda County, to determine key policies of the POCC. On the committee is representation from the consumer-run organizations, consumers that work for CBOs in the county, and consumers that reflect the cultural diversity of Alameda County and Behavioral Health Care. 

We had our first county-wide kickoff event in May 2007. At that time we had approximately 100 members, and about 70 of them showed up at the event. To emphasize the importance of this first meeting, Linford Gayle, Chair of the MHSA Oversight and Accountability Commission, and Sally Zinman, Executive Director of the CNMHC at the time, were the keynote speakers. 

In the beginning, the POCC had started several committees besides the Steering Committee, including the Orientation Committee and the Cultural Diversity Committee. The Criminal justice Committee and the Joyful Voices Choir, were also among the first. An Orientation was held every month for new POCC members. If they came to the Orientation and filled out an application and were eligible, they would be entitled to receive stipends on the committees, apply for scholarships to conferences, and receive a monthly POCC calendar. 

Our next major effort to get MHSA dollars to fund consumer-run programs was to work on the hiring of consumers through MHSA Workforce, Education & Training dollars. During the planning period over a number of months, we developed a Peer Employment Tool Kit, and participated on the MHSA planning group that was deciding where the resources would go. With 20 members participating, we made up over half the group. Andrée Reyes was hired by Behavioral Health Care to implement the hiring of consumers initiative. Five hundred fifty-three thousand dollars was approved for a consumer organization to provide the hiring of consumers. 

Over the years, as the POCC grew, more committees were needed to reflect the consumer perspective on systems change. For example, to reflect the ethnic diversity, we formed the Asian American, African American, and Latino Committees. We recognized that we needed to have committees reflecting age and gender identity, so the TAY, Elders, and SAGA Committees took shape. Committees formed around important issues in the community, such as Healing Trauma, Substance Use Recovery, Public Policy & Education, and Veterans. 

The POCC now puts on its own annual conference each summer. Members of the Consumer Empowerment Department collaborate with the community on CIT and on a trauma-informed learning collaborative, among other efforts. There has been collaborate exploration into the importance of Spirituality in wellness and recovery, and most recently, examination of Peer Specialist Certification has been at the forefront. 

Dear POCC Members

The POCC Staff and Consumer Empowerment Department is posting this note of support to all of you as Alameda County confronts the COVID-19 global pandemic. We are entering what will be a stressful time for many POCC members, including our community and we want you to know that we are keeping all of you and your families in our thoughts.

The POCC will take a different route in the way we conduct important POCC business.  Due to the infectious nature of COVID-19 all POCC meetings and events will be held virtually and remotely by phone beginning Friday, March 13 until further notice.

The staff of the committee has a call-in number and access code to connect you to your committee meeting.  The POCC staff will reach out to you and help members to coordinate your continued participation by phone.  Stipends will continue to be provided to members of the committee and all stipends will be mailed out each month. The monthly mailing will be on hold for a while. New Member Orientations are on hold as well as the committee events.  If you have additional questions please call Mary Hogden at 510-639-1338.

Coronavirus (Covid 19) – POCC meetings will be held remotely by phone and not in person from March 13-April 30, 2020.    The County will revisit this issue at the end of April 2020.

We encourage you to listen to our public health professionals who are asking all Alameda County residents to be vigilant about controlling what we can -- wash your hands, try not to touch your face, and follow the shelter in place policy. Our team is actively following these guidelines. The Alameda County Consumer Empowerment team/POCC and its Peer run programs will be working remotely providing virtual peer support to its members. We will ensure that no events take place that conflict with guidelines coming from public health professionals. Social distancing may feel isolating, but it is one of the best ways that we can all help drive down the spread of COVID-19 and make sure that those who need care can receive it.

Please continue to visit our public health website at for up-to-date information and key links, and send questions to for questions that are not addressed by CDC, CDPH, or our website.)

Also please continue to visit our website for POCC updates. We understand that this is a challenging time for all of us. We are increasing telephone peer support services between the hours of 9:00 AM-5:00 P.M. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please contact the Alameda County Crisis Line 1-800-309-2131.

If are in need of telephone peer support please contact or and we will have a peer specialist contact you.

Consumer Empowerment Dept - POCC Staff

Khatera Aslami-Tamplen
510- 567-8102
Adrianne DeSantis
Paulette Franklin
Mary Hogden
Jaleah Winn
510- 567-8182
Michele Moncrief
COVID 19 Stop The Spread of Germs

Learn About The POCC

Our story, mission and passion
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Education and Resources for Consumers
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Membership & Orientation Committee
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Upcomming Events
2020 POCC Conference
June 25, 2020
8:00 am
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Call for POCC Award Nominations

Deadline for submissions of nominations is June 15, 2020

The Pool of Consumer champions (POCC) Planning committee is now accepting nominations for outstanding achievement in the categories below for the Awards Segment of the 2020 POCC Training and Awards Banquet.

Download Application

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Definitely Do Again

By LaMar Mitchell

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POCC Making Waves Newsletter

August 2021 Newsletter

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July 2019 Newsletter

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A Grand Celebration

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We Are Alright:

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January 2019 Newsletter

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October 2018 Newsletter

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April 2018 Newsletter

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