Welcome to the 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 2017, the department employs 11,240 staff and serves nearly 13,000 patients annually in a 24/7 hospital system supported by a $1.8 billion budget.

Who we treat:

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

In addition to forensic commitments, DSH treats patients who have been classified by a judge or jury as Sexually Violent Predators. These patients have served prison sentences for committing crimes enumerated under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (Welfare and Inst. Code Sections 6600 et. al.). They are committed to DSH for treatment until a judge deems they are no longer a threat to the community.

The remainder of the department’s population has been committed in civil court for being a danger to themselves or others. These patients are commonly referred to as Lanterman-Petris-Short commitments.

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.