About Us

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Welcome to the New Department of State Hospitals

Vision: Caring today for a safe and healthy tomorrow.

Mission: Providing evaluation and treatment in a safe and responsible manner, seeking innovation and excellence in hospital operations, across a continuum of care and settings.

Values: Safety, treatment, and responsibility.

Goals: Safe environment. Responsible stewardship. Excellence in forensic evaluation. Excellence in treatment.

Who we are:

The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) manages the California state hospital system, which provides mental health services to patients admitted into DSH facilities. The department strives to provide effective treatment in a safe environment and in a fiscally responsible manner.

DSH oversees five state hospitals and three psychiatric programs located in state prisons.

Our five state hospitals are Atascadero, Coalinga, Metropolitan (in Los Angeles County), Napa and Patton.

Through an interagency agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), we also treat inmates at prisons in Vacaville, Salinas Valley and Stockton.

All eight facilities are fully licensed by the California Department of Public Health, and must regularly meet or exceed regulatory standards to continue providing care.

DSH was created by Governor Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 Budget, which eliminated the Department of Mental Health by transferring its various functions to other departments.

As of 2014, the department employs 11,000 plus staff and serves 6,000 plus patients in a 24/7 hospital system supported by a $1.6 billion budget.

Who we treat:

Patients are mandated for treatment by a criminal or civil court judge. Up to 90 percent of our patients are forensic commitments. These patients were sent to DSH through the criminal court system and have committed or have been accused of committing a crime linked to their mental illness.

In addition to forensic commitments DSH treats patients who have been classified as Sexually Violent Predators.

The remainder of the department’s population has been committed in civil court because they are a danger to themselves or others. These patients, commonly referred to as Lanterman-Petris-Short commitments, can be held 72 hours for mental health evaluation and treatment. Patients can then be evaluated for an additional 14 day treatment period. Further evaluation and judicial review can extend commitments in 180 day intervals.

Additional programs and services

Through its Sex Offender Commitment Program (SOCP), DSH evaluates CDCR inmates to determine if they meet the criteria for a Sexually Violent Predator designation. Inmates who meet the criteria are referred to the local district attorney, who may advocate for an inmate to be admitted as an SVP.

The California Forensic Conditional Release Program (CONREP) oversees patients who have been conditionally released from DSH by a judge. DSH’s medical directors recommend patients for release when their symptoms have been stabilized and they no longer present a danger to society. Only the courts have the authority to order a release. SVPs in CONREP receive an intensive regimen of treatment and supervision that includes at least weekly individual contact by supervision staff, specialized sex offender treatment, weekly drug screening, surveillance, polygraph examinations, and active Global Positioning System tracking.

Community partnerships

DSH works closely with CDCR to treat inmates and parolees at four of our five state hospitals and all three of our prison psychiatric programs. Prison and state hospital staff collaborate on a daily basis.

The department also works with city and county government on a variety of public safety issues. Several county mental health departments purchase beds at state hospitals for Lanterman-Petris-Short patients. Counties also place criminal defendants found Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST) into DSH hospitals. IST patients are treated at DSH until competency is restored, or until the time limit is reached on their commitment.

Service to local communities is integral to the department’s mission. DSH welcomes opportunities to partner with civic groups.