DSH - Atascadero

Related Links

DSH - Atascadero: Mission, Vision and Values


Atascadero State Hospital SignThe staff of the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) - Atascadero proudly serves the people of the State of California by providing protection for the community, expert evaluations for the courts, and state-of-the-science psychiatric recovery services for patients referred to us from across the state.

The mission of DSH - Atascadero includes providing evaluation and treatment in a safe and responsible manner, seeking innovation and excellence in hospital operations, across a continuum of care and settings.



A Safe Environment: 

In emphasizing public safety, we provide a secure environment within which patients referred to our care can recover from the effects of their psychiatric conditions.  This secure environment protects the community as well as the people within the hospital and enables and supports the therapeutic milieu.

Responsible Stewardship: 

The hospital promotes individual responsibility and accountability of each person. Employees and patients are empowered to identify problems, propose recommendations, and implement solutions.

Excellence in Forensic Evaluation: 

We provide consumer-specific objective evaluations and recommendations to the courts and other agencies using the most up-to-date instruments and risk assessment models.

Excellence in Treatment: 

We provide up-to-date treatment and rehabilitation services to the patients in our care and ensure that community standards of practice and care are provided in our facility.  We recognize that recovery is most effectively achieved when services are person oriented, empirically based, and arise out of a diverse theoretical and multidisciplinary foundation.


  • Safety
  • Treatment
  • Responsibility


Caring Today for a Safe and Healthy Tomorrow

We envision a hospital in which patients referred to our care receive the treatment, rehabilitation services, and support they need to recover from a psychiatric disability. We strive to ameliorate disabling symptoms of mental disorders, assist in the development of knowledge and skills needed to meet daily life challenges, and support the concept that, through hope, positive change is possible and all patients can move forward towards recovery. We provide opportunities for patients to experience a sense of purpose, have roles as contributing members of their community, and realize that their ideas can and do make a difference in the life of the hospital.

We envision a hospital in which staff is healthy, well trained, and competent. Staff is engaged, productive, and motivated to provide quality services. Staff members are valued for their skills, unique experiences, and specialized training. Contributions are acknowledged and rewarded.

We envision a hospital milieu in which the physical environment is clean, attractive, well maintained, comfortable, and safe. Within the milieu, patients are afforded choices, input into treatment decisions, and positive support. Staff is familiar with each patient's treatment goals and take the opportunity to reinforce learning on a daily basis. Conflicts are resolved with respect and equanimity; the patient's needs are understood and supported; and safety and security are integral to everyday life.


As a public sector forensic psychiatric facility, public protection is our first concern. Our treatment efforts are best provided in an environment that successfully balances security with each patient’s recovery needs. We fulfill our security mandate while at the same time, to the extent possible, we create the least restrictive rehabilitation milieu to promote maximum autonomy.

We recognize that psychiatric disorders, including those that are associated with habitual criminal and anti-social acts, are complex phenomena stemming from various nurture and nature influences. We maintain that while severe and persistent psychiatric disorders are not curable at this time, rehabilitation and development of skills and supports needed to achieve one’s goals are within the reach of each and every patient. We strive to assist those in our care to manage their symptoms, anti-social behaviors, and develop functional skills using the most current biological and psychosocial rehabilitation available so that they may be returned to their communities with social skills that promote nonviolence. We continually seek to discover new, more effective modes of treatment and actively engage in collaborative scholarly activities with experts in the field of behavioral health, nationally and internationally.

We believe that the process of providing expert clinical evaluation and treatment for mentally ill forensic patients takes place most effectively in an environment that fosters innovation, creative problem-solving and mutual respect within a dynamic therapeutic milieu. Competency, respect for social and cultural differences and active efforts to dispel the stigma that is associated with the person’s criminal offenses are paramount. Expert clinical evaluation is drawn directly from current risk assessment models and addresses the needs of external agencies and stakeholders.

All members of the hospital community share a responsibility for safety and security including security in interpersonal relationships and identification and control of contraband and environmental security risks. We provide structure, support, and validation for those we serve to facilitate recovery.