The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH), with a budget of approximately $2.4 billion, is the largest county-operated mental health department in the United States, directly operating programs in more than 85 sites, and providing services through contract programs and DMH staff at approximately 300 sites co-located with other County departments, schools, courts and various organizations. Each year, the County contracts with close to 1,000 organizations and individual practitioners to provide a variety of mental health-related services. On average, more than 250,000 County residents of all ages are served every year.
Our mission is to optimize the hope, wellbeing and life trajectory of Los Angeles County's most vulnerable through access to care and resources that promote not only independence and personal recovery but also connectedness and community reintegration.
The primary focus is to serve populations suffering from persistent mental illness, especially those with no safe living environment, inadequate access to resources, and absent family or kin. Highest priority is afforded to those struggling in foster care, subsisting in the streets/shelters, frequenting ERs, “living” on psychiatry wards, and languishing in the criminal justice system.
By supplying housing and surrogate family (kin through peers), and maximizing access to a continuum of resources that address mental conditions (systems of care), we intent to:
- ① Prevent mental deterioration by reducing exposure to trauma;
- ② Mitigate suffering by reaching and engaging those in crisis;
- ③ Provide critical care as indicated;
- ④ Facilitate stability through needs-driven treatment, and;
- ⑤ Promote personal recovery as well as community reintegration.
We envision an LA County unified by shared intention and cross-sector collaboration that helps those suffering from serious mental illness heal, grow and flourish by providing easy access to the right services and the right opportunities at the right time in the right place from the right people.
Mental health services provided include assessments, case management, crisis intervention, medication support, peer support, psychotherapy and other rehabilitative services. Services are provided in a variety of settings including residential facilities, clinics, schools, hospitals, county jails, juvenile halls and camps, mental health courts, board and care homes, in the field and in people’s homes. Special emphasis is placed on addressing mental health disorders that co-occur with other health problems such as addiction. We also provide counseling to victims of natural and man-made disasters, their families and emergency first responders. The Director of Mental Health is responsible for protecting patients’ rights in all public and private hospitals, programs providing voluntary mental health care and treatment, and all contracted community-based programs. The Director also serves as the public guardian for individuals gravely disabled by mental illness, and is the conservatorship investigation officer for the County.
Our services to adults and older adults are focused on those who are functionally disabled by severe and persistent mental illness, including those who are low-income, uninsured, temporarily impaired, or in situational crises. Services to children and youth are focused on those who are seriously emotionally disturbed and diagnosed with a mental disorder. They include wards or dependents of the juvenile court, children in psychiatric inpatient facilities, seriously emotionally disturbed youth in the community, and special education students referred by local schools and educational institutions.
Mental Health Services Act
The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), created by the passage of Proposition 63 in 2004, has expanded the partnerships and capacity of the mental health system in Los Angeles. DMH continues to work with a diverse group of community stakeholders to effect the historic expansion of mental health services funded by MHSA. More information about MHSA is available at this link: MHSA.