Earlier this month, Steinberg Institute founder and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg sat down for a provocative interview with Thinking CAP, a podcast of the Center for American Progress. Given the timing, much of the interview centers on immigration and the Trump administration’s decision to sue California over its sanctuary state laws. But about 14 minutes in, the focus turns to mental health: the strides we’ve made in care and innovation and the barriers that remain. What will it take to reach the tipping point? He lays out a vision.
California’s Mental Health Services Act has benefitted tens of thousands of Los Angeles County residents, funding services that fostered significant improvements in mental health and wellbeing, as well as measurable gains in housing, employment and living conditions, according to findings of a new RAND Corporation report.
The 53-page report, commissioned by Los Angeles County, is the first extensive, independent analysis of the county-level impacts of the Mental Health Services Act, or Proposition 63, a millionaire’s tax approved by California voters in 2004. The researchers conclude the county is reaching a highly vulnerable and diverse population, and that overall the people engaged in those programs experience significant improvements in their mental health and life circumstances.
“There have been several audits criticizing the MHSA, but we finally have some great news to share today,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who authored the groundbreaking legislation while serving in the State Assembly. “This report demonstrates to the public what we have known for many years: tens of thousands of people are getting desperately needed help. The MHSA is affecting thousands of lives.”
It was a day to discuss “the possible.” On Feb. 28, Senator Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, in partnership with the Steinberg Institute, hosted a remarkable briefing that featured global leaders at the forefront of innovation and transformation in mental health care delivery. These are people making a striking and measurable difference in varied aspects of care, including early prevention and intervention in youth mental health; neighborhood-centered crisis care; homeless services; community education; and eradication of stigma. Each has managed to scale up and standardize best practices across a broad population. The common threads? Bold vision; committed leadership; and clearly defined strategic objectives.
We believe there are lessons for California in understanding how these innovators have succeeded in shifting the tide. Access the link below to find the speakers’ visual presentations, a photo gallery and a video of the day’s discussions.