The Steinberg Institute announces initiative committed to ending the mental health and substance use crisis in California

Vision 2030 will bring critical data and research to California’s most pressing challenge

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.”

Phase one of this effort will focus on generating new research and data that will ultimately be used to reduce the cycle of hospitalization, homelessness and incarceration for those living with mental health and substance use challenges in California.

The Vision 2030 initiative has the following goals:

Modernize and strengthen California’s behavioral health workforce to meet the diverse needs of the entire state.
California has the highest number of Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations in the nation, meaning a grave shortage of mental health service providers in many parts of the state. Additionally, our behavioral health workforce is not representative of the diversity of our great state. The Steinberg Institute’s new research in this focus area will dive deep into the root causes of these issues and recommend strategies to build and sustain a workforce that reflects and supports California’s diverse population.

Reduce the number of unhoused people with mental illness or substance use disorders by half.
An estimated 170,000 people are living unhoused in California, and as many as two-thirds may be living with symptoms of a significant mental health and/or substance use condition. The Steinberg Institute’s new research will center on understanding the mental health care that is most successful with the state’s unhoused and spreading these care delivery solutions statewide.

Reduce the number of people entering hospital emergency departments due to behavioral health crises by half.
In 2021, more than 2 million Californians with a behavioral health diagnosis ended up in the emergency room. Hospitals are not conducive to resolving an acute mental health or substance use crisis. The Institute’s research will explore how to significantly reduce behavioral health hospitalization rates across the state, and get people care in a more appropriate community based setting.

Reduce the number of people with mental illness entering our criminal justice system by half.
More than a third of people who make up the California prison population live with a mental health and/or substance use condition, and many of those individuals become involved in the justice system because of a lack of access to adequate community mental health care. The Steinberg Institute’s new research in this focus area will examine the mental illness-to-prison pipeline and identify effective diversion strategies.

“The reality is, despite thousands of Californians being helped through California’s care systems, there is much about the challenges facing those systems that we don’t understand,” said Sacramento Mayor and Steinberg Institute founder Darrell Steinberg. “Vision 2030 is our plan to come armed with information, ready to rally resources where they are needed, and ultimately ensure care systems are rising to the challenge and helping people.”

This Steinberg Institute expansion is set to begin immediately with launch support from Kaiser Permanente.

“Kaiser Permanente’s $2 million grant to the Steinberg Institute marks a milestone in our long-standing commitment to transform California’s system of care for those struggling with mental health conditions and substance use disorders,” said Don Mordecai, MD, national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente. “We are proud to support The Steinberg Institute in our collective pursuit of improving behavioral health outcomes, strengthening the mental health and addiction care workforce, and driving positive change for the well-being of our communities.”

The organization welcomes additional funders interested in supporting Vision 2030. To learn more, visit:


About the Steinberg Institute
The Steinberg Institute is dedicated to transforming California’s mental health and substance use care systems through education, advocacy, accountability, and inspired leadership. Founded in 2015 by Sacramento Mayor and former state Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the institute has been the driving force behind sweeping improvements in California behavioral health policy. Visit us at

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