DSH Diversion Program
In recent years, California has seen a drastic increase in the referral to state hospitals of patients who are incompetent to stand trial. The state has also experienced a growing homeless population, which has a high prevalence of mental illness (and co-occurring substance use disorder issues). The 2018-19 State Budget included $100 million General Fund over three years for the expansion and development of county diversion programs, with the majority of funding going to the 15 counties with the highest referrals to state hospitals.
The Budget Act of 2021 allocated an additional $47.6 million dollars to support an expansion of the DSH Diversion program. Please see the links below to access the Letter of Intent to participate if you are a county currently funded by DSH or if you are a new county interested in starting a DSH Program.
Current DSH-Funded Counties: Letter of Intent due September 24, 2021
- DSH Diversion Expansion Letter of Intent (Current Counties)
- Diversion Funding Tables (Current Counties)
New County Applicants: Letter of Intent due September 17, 2021
- DSH Diversion Expansion Letter of Intent (New Counties)
- Diversion Funding Tables (New Counties)
- DSH Diversion New County Applicant Information Recording
- DSH Diversion New County Applicant Information PDF
Technical Assistance Schedule
DSH Diversion Team Office Hours
From 10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m on the last Friday of the Month
Technical Assistance Resources
Psychopharmacology Training Series
The DSH Psychopharmacology Resource Network has recorded a series of webinar trainings for prescribers working in mental health diversion programs. The series consists of fifteen to twenty-five minute didactic presentations on prescribing practices for patients with serious mental illness who are participating in diversion programs.
For more information, please see the Psychopharmacology Training Series Flyer.
- Community Outreach and Communications to Gain Community Buy-In for Affordable Housing for Mental Health Diversion
- Approaches to Treatment Planning and Case Management for Mental Health Diversion
- Strategies for Addressing the Housing Needs of People in Mental Health Pre-Trial Diversion Programs
- DSH Diversion Eligibility
- Mental Health Diversion - Using the County Planning and Implementation Guide
- Collaborative Comprehensive Case Planning
- Webinar: Program Sustainability
- DSH Diversion Round 2 Funding Bidders Conference
- DSH Diversion Round 3 Funding Bidders Conference
- Risk Needs Responsivity with Dr. Sarah Desmarais
- Risk Assessment with Sarah Desmarais
- Risk Assessments 101 with Dr. Sean Evans
- Fairness and Bias in Risk Assessments
California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions
Risk Assessments, Risk Needs Responsivity, and Forensic Training Resources:
- Supporting People with Serious Mental Illnesses and Reducing Their Risk of Contact with the Criminal Justice System: A Primer for Psychiatrists – Council of State Governments
- Screening and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders in the Criminal Justice System Webinar – Council of State Governments
- Understanding and Managing Risks for People with Behavioral Health Needs (FAQs for Local Prosecutors)
Collaborative Case Planning – Council of State Governments
- Stepping Up Initiative Toolkit
- Criminal Justice Mental Health Learning Sites. New York: The Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2018
- Collaborative Case Planning:
- Judicial Council of California, Pretrial Diversion Program, AB 1810 Implementation Webinar
- Judicial Council of California, “Serious Mental Health Disorders” webinar, Dec. 13, 2018
- Partnering with County Behavioral Health to Serve Justice Involved Populations Part 1
- Partnering with County Behavioral Health to Serve Justice Involved Populations Part 2
- Partnering with County Behavioral Health to Serve Justice Involved Populations Part 3
Other Funding Resources:
- California Health Facilities Financing Authority
- California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council
- Board of State and Community Corrections
- Department of Health Care Services
- Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission
- County Planning Guide Appendix A – Council of State Governments
- We need to stop treating mentally ill people like criminals
- DSH partners with prestigious research center to evaluate mental health diversion
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the DSH Diversion Program?
The DSH Diversion Program is a collaboration between DSH and county governments to develop or expand diversion programs for individuals with serious mental illness who face felony charges and could be determined to be Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST). The DSH Diversion Program provides funding to counties to support community mental health treatment and other services for these individuals.
Why is the program needed?
Some people who are Incompetent to Stand Trial committed felonies that stem from serious mental illness or being homeless. They have difficulty accessing mental health services and committing to treatment and often cycle through the criminal justice system. The goal of the DSH Diversion Program is to provide these individuals, when a judge deems it safe and appropriate to do so, with long-term community mental health treatment and other services and to avoid criminal charges and institutionalization.
Who is served by the program?
The DSH Diversion Program provides funding to counties to serve primarily individuals who are:
- Eligible for diversion under Penal Code Section 1001.35, et. Seq., Diversion of Individuals with Mental Disorders
- Diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder;
- Charged with a felony;
- Not a significant safety risk if treated in the community.
In addition, there must be a significant link between the individual’s mental illness or homelessness and the crime they are charged with.
Who is not served by the program?
By law, individuals charged with the following felony crimes are not eligible for diversion:
- Rape, murder or involuntary manslaughter;
- Sexual abuse of a child or a lewd or lascivious act on a child;
- Assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy, or oral copulation.
How much funding is available?
The three-year program is funded for $100 million, of which $99.5 million is being awarded to counties. The remaining funds are for program support.
Which counties does the program serve?
The majority of funding - $91 million - for the three-year program is available for the 15 counties that refer the greatest number of ISTs to DSH: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus. A smaller portion of the funding - $8.5 million - is available to other counties, too.
What must county governments do to participate in the program?
To receive funding, county diversion programs are expected to:
- Provide evidence-based community mental health treatment and wrap-around services.
- Serve individuals where there is a significant link between their serious mental illness or homelessness and the alleged felony crime and who do not present a significant safety risk if treated in the community.
- Reduce IST referrals to DSH by 20 percent to 30 percent.
- Contribute 20 percent of funds; small counties must contribute 10 percent.