who we are

The Steinberg Institute

We are an independent, nonprofit public policy institute dedicated to advancing sound public policy and inspiring leadership on issues of mental health and substance use. 

View of the California State Capitol Building
Darrell Steinberg speaking at an event



Sharing innovative best practices and policy approaches with leaders across the state of California.


We believe equitable access to care and recovery should be available for all Californians living with mental health and/or substance use disorders.


Vital information about California’s spending and outcomes must be collected, analyzed, made publicly available, and met with a focus on quality improvement and accountability.

Inspired leadership

Breaking down the barriers created by stigma and discrimination, we educate and inspire leadership on all issues related to mental health and substance use disorders.

latest news

Issue Spotlight

SACRAMENTO (November 15, 2023) – Today the Steinberg Institute announced a organizational expansion and commitment toward the goal of ending the mental health and substance use crisis in California. The Institute outlined the details of its ambitious new initiative, Vision 2030.

“Now is the time for us to double down on ending this crisis and put every resource we have into fighting for our state’s most vulnerable,” said Steinberg Institute CEO Karen Larsen. “Substance use rates have skyrocketed and tens of thousands of people struggling with addiction and mental illness find themselves cycling through our hospitals, jails and homelessness. Our workforce is overwhelmed, hospitals are overcrowded, and our criminal justice system is dealing with a challenge it isn’t built for.”

(Los Angeles) Steinberg Institute founder Darrell Steinberg and CEO Karen Larsen joined Governor Gavin Newsom as he signed legislation to modernize California’s landmark Mental Health Services Act.

The signing, held at the historic Los Angeles General Medical Center, marks a significant milestone in the history of behavioral health treatment in California. The Governor signed SB 326 (Eggman) and AB 531 (Irwin) at the ceremony.

SB 326 transforms several aspects of the 2004 Mental Health Services Act, co-authored by current Sacramento mayor, Darrell Steinberg. AB 531 (Irwin) proposes a $4.68 Billion bond to build 10,000 new behavioral health beds and supportive housing units across California.

The Future of Mental Health

Our founder, Darrell Steinberg, gives a passionate speech in this TEDx talk about the injustice that those with mental illness frequently face when trying to receive treatment. Darrell has been fighting consistently to improve mental health policy in California since the late 1990s as a member of the state Assembly, as state Senate President pro Tem, and currently as mayor of Sacramento. Darrell was the co-author of the 2004 state initiative that imposed a 1 percent tax on incomes over $1 million, also called the California Mental Health Services Act, which has generated nearly $30 billion for mental health services since being enacted.

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