Our Strategic Plan


Transforming California’s mental health and substance use care systems through education, advocacy, accountability, and inspired leadership.


The legacy of rationing care in California’s behavioral health system is far-reaching and exacerbated by a behavioral health workforce crisis, a lack of consistent and strong leadership at all levels of government, and an insufficient focus on the needs of our children and youth prior to diagnosis and before mental illness and substance abuse issues arise.


California continues to trail other states when it comes to prioritizing mental health and ensuring meaningful outcomes for individuals living with mental illness and substance use disorders. Less than a third of Californians living with a mental health condition and approximately ten percent of those living with a substance use disorder receive the care they need.

Despite many shining examples of innovation and compassion throughout our state and across the country, our mental health system is broken, leaving thousands in dire straits and left to fend for themselves with impossible circumstances and very few resources. It’s a human rights issue that must be remedied now.

In our inaugural strategic plan, the Steinberg Institute seeks to transform California’s systems of care for those living with mental health and substance use disorders by establishing a right to care for all; ensuring a system that prioritizes transparency and accountability and health equity; and inspiring leadership and spreading innovation and best practices.


We believe that all Californians have a right to quality care​


Depending on where a person lives in California or what insurance coverage they have, they have differing levels of access to different types of care. Too many of our loved ones and neighbors in need of mental health and substance use care are not able to find it. For some, it means waiting months to get help. For too many, it means no care at all and ending up in crisis – on the streets, in the hospital or in jail.


Residents have ready access to, and coverage for, high-quality, integrated care that is grounded in best practices


  • A robust workforce is available to meet the urgent and ongoing needs for care
  • Residents are entitled to a universal and comprehensive array of services for all ages
  • Care providers utilize models of care that demonstrate improved outcomes and reflect the diversity of California
  • Career pathway for peers and non-traditional workforce are created and supported
  • System involvement (Education, Health Systems, Homelessness, Criminal Justice, Child Welfare) is reduced through cross sector partnerships

We believe that quality care for Californians requires transparency and accountability


Despite billions of public dollars being spent in California on mental health and substance use disorder services, there is a lack of publicly available information regarding the spending and associated outcomes. This hinders our ability to adjust approaches to improve outcomes.


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


  • Fiscal transparency is ensured through dashboards showing behavioral health spending
  • Outcome transparency is ensured through dashboards showing behavioral health service data
  • Fiscal and outcome data are utilized to improve efficiency and quality of care
  • Social determinants of health outcomes are improved through cross-system partnerships dedicated to sharing data, costs and accountability
  • Legislation is implemented in a timely fashion, maintaining integrity to the intent of the law

We believe that quality care for Californians requires health equity


Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and rural populations carry a higher disease burden than other Californians leading to poorer outcomes and higher system involvement. Untreated mental illness and substance misuse in these communities increases the severity of the illness and the overall impacts on the individual, families, and community.


Equitable access to care and recovery is available for all Californians living with mental health and/or substance use disorders


  • Investments are made in prevention and early intervention
  • System involvement (Health Systems, Homelessness, Criminal Justice, Child Welfare) is reduced for marginalized groups
  • Deaths due to avoidable causes, such as suicide and overdoses, are prevented
  • Quality of life recovery outcomes are quantified, elevated and shared

We believe that our system can be transformed through bold shared leadership​


While we have seen a shift in public attitudes and stigma surrounding issues related to mental health and substance use disorders; misunderstanding, stigma, and discrimination continue to hinder our collective efforts to improve our systems of care, impairing our ability to provide quality care to those who need it.


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


  • State leadership and Legislators are educated regarding mental health and substance use disorder policy and practice
  • Innovative best practices are highlighted and spread
  • National stakeholders are engaged in advancing the Steinberg Institute’s work

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