Steinberg Institute


The Steinberg Institute is focused on legislation this year that helps address our current areas of concentration, which include early detection, prevention and intervention of psychosis and serious mood disorders; supportive housing and services for homeless people living with serious mental illness; continuing education requirements for primary care providers that help integrate mental and physical health care, especially for children; expanding suicide prevention programs to all public college campuses; decriminalizing mental illness through appropriate pre-trial diversion programs and expanded sentencing options; and expanding psychiatric crisis care services.

Find our 2017 Legislative Package here.

Find our 2016 Legislative Package here.

Find our 2015 Legislative Package here.


“No Place like Home” Housing Initiative (AB 1618):

With this historic 2016 legislation, the Steinberg Institute and a bipartisan coalition of partners successfully secured $2 billion for permanent supportive housing and services for homeless people living with serious mental illness. The advisory commission overseeing the rollout of the “No Place Like Home” initiative is finalizing guidelines for the competitive grant process for housing funds, which will launch next year. Another $200 million is already available to counties for planning.

California has more than one third of the nation’s chronically homeless, nearly 30,000 people. The vast majority contend with untreated mental illness and other significant problems. Historically, they have spiraled through a disabling and often deadly cycle, from the streets to emergency rooms and jail, absorbing a huge proportion of public resources. “No Place Like Home” aims to break that cycle, connecting this vulnerable population with housing and “whatever it takes” services that assist with mental health treatment, training and employment.  The state is funding the effort by re-purposing a small percentage of funds generated by the 2004 Mental Health Services Act to leverage a $2 billion revenue bond and billions of additional dollars from other local, state, and federal funds.


Public College Mental Health Services: 

Both research and the poignant stories shared by college students and their families, faculty, and staff report serious and significantly increased rates of mental health issues among college-aged youth. The demand for quality mental health services that respond to our diverse college student population is a growing need that we must address.

Research shows that:

◊  1 in 4 students have a diagnosable mental illness.

◊  40% of students do not seek help when they need it.

◊  8 out of 10 people who experience psychosis have their first episode between the ages of 15 and 30.

◊  Depression is the number one reason students drop out of school, and can lead to suicide, homelessness etc.

◊  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, claiming more than 1,100 lives every year.

This proposal seeks to create a College Mental Health Services Trust to fund competitive grants for mental health services for students in the public college system.  The grant trust would dedicate a small percentage of Proposition 63 funds and require matching funds from public college campus applicants. The grants would be awarded to applicants that focus on local collaboration between county behavioral health departments and colleges as well as plan to provide direct services to underserved and vulnerable populations.

inmate in LA county jail MH wardDecriminalization of Mental Illness:

The criminalization of individuals with mental illness persists as one of the most substantial human rights and criminal justice issues we face as a state and as a nation.  Jails and prisons have become California’s defacto mental health facilities with those who live with mental illness being far more likely to be incarcerated than to be receiving the care they need.

Our proposal would allow a court to consider the mental health status of an individual found guilty of a crime during sentencing and to incorporate mental health services in their sentencing when there is no threat to public safety.  This solution to an ongoing challenge is strategic, cost-effective, and seeks to change the way individuals living with mental illness are treated at a key point in the criminal justice system.

ER doc on phoneCrisis Care Services:

For individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, treatment options are frequently limited and prove hard to access in California.  The brunt of the initial treatment responsibility defaults to emergency departments (ED).  While some individuals who are assessed and stabilized in an ED may be discharged to receive outpatient follow-up, others require an inpatient level of care. For these individuals, a bed that meets their needs must be located.

The 22% decrease in the number of acute psychiatric beds from 2004 to 2013 and the challenges emergency department staff experience as they call facility after facility to find an available bed has resulted in more and more patients are being “boarded” or left to languish in an ER while in a mental health crisis.  This often leads to a worsening of an individual’s condition while their mental health needs are not being met for hours and sometimes even days. This kind of delay in crisis services isn’t experienced with such frequency by any other patient population or diagnosis.

This proposal would create a web-based psychiatric inpatient bed registry to collect and display up-to-the-minute information about available beds.  Since all facilities that maintain psychiatric beds would update the registry as beds become available, emergency department staff would be able to search available beds to locate potential facilities to transfer an individual requiring inpatient psychiatric care. This would streamline information between facilities, reducing patient waiting time, as well as allow the state to track where and which types of beds are most often needed. Having real-time data on the demands and availability of beds moves California into the 21st century and will ensure we are doing all we can for individuals in crisis when they need it most.

A Project of the Tides Center