Mental health investment shows promising results

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Maggie Merritt at 916-553-4167.

First comprehensive analysis on Prop. 63 spending shows investment is making a difference. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 11, 2015. The Steinberg Institute for Advancing Behavioral Health Policy & Leadership today released the first comprehensive, data-driven study of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), created by Proposition 63. The evaluation, performed in partnership with the California Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA), draws from data reported by counties to state agencies.

By analyzing the life impacts for over 35,000 Californians who in 2011 received “whatever it takes” intensive services from MHSA, in addition to the other outcomes produced in this report for 2012 and 2013, the evidence is clear that MHSA is delivering promising results:

Homelessness: Decreases in homelessness and emergency shelter use ranging from 28% among 16 to 25 year olds up to 58% for older adults.

Emergency Interventions: Decreases in emergency mental health and substance use intervention from 79% among children to 83% for older adults.

Psychiatric Hospitalization: Decreases in psychiatric hospitalizations from 40% among children to 50% for older adults.

Arrests: Dramatic declines in arrests from 71% for youth to 90% for older adults.

Incarcerations: Decreases in incarcerations from 17% for youth to 41% for adults.

Out-of-Home Placement: Decreases in out-of-home placement of children of 60%.

“It’s clear that investing in mental health services saves lives and saves money,” said Darrell Steinberg, Steinberg Institute Founder. “These dramatic decreases in everything from homelessness to hospitalizations to arrests, tell us just how critical it is that we invest in mental health.”

“This county-level data shows that California saved millions of taxpayer dollars that would have been needed for more prison cells, emergency hospital beds, or shelters for homeless people,” said Robert Oakes, Executive Director of the CBHDA. “Proposition 63 saves money and lives.”

In attendance at today’s news conference were several members of Turning Point Community Programs, a Sacramento area MHSA-supported service provider. These members are people whose lives have been improved, and in some cases saved, by the services supported under Prop. 63.

“I am not surprised by the impressive results this data show because I see Prop. 63 working each day in these courageous individuals,” said Al Rowlett, Chief Executive Officer of Turning Point Community Programs.

“The people we serve through Full Partnership Programs in particular are able to fill more of their daily lives with joy and fulfillment, and fewer crises,” Rowlett said. “These are remarkable people making remarkable transformations.”

Steinberg added: “The data we have right now show the Prop. 63 program is working, and there is much more we can do. In addition to making Prop. 63 work better, the Steinberg Institute will bill be fighting to expand services for veterans and children, and for creating a fairer system for sentencing of the mentally ill. We will also be updating this data every six months and working with other agencies to ensure adequate data is more readily available to publish the successes taking place every day for Californians with mental health issues and their families.”

The full report is available at and

Passed in 2004, Proposition 63 imposed a 1 percent tax on incomes over $1 million to fund mental health services in California.

The Steinberg Institute was founded last year by Senate President pro Tem (ret) Darrell Steinberg (co-author of Proposition 63) to increase the prioritization and effectiveness of mental health policy making.

The County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA) is an advocacy organization representing the mental health directors of all 58 counties and two cities (Berkeley and Tri-City).

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