Service Area 3 Hosts Its First Interfaith Meeting

By Jamie Renteria, LACDMH SA 3 Outreach & Engagement Coordinator

On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) Service Area 3 Program Administration sponsored the San Gabriel Valley’s first Interfaith Meeting at Almansor Court in the City of Alhambra. 

Twenty-two spiritual leaders attended the first meeting.  They represented the following religious organizations:  Jewish Federation of the SGV; Church of the City; Greater LA Ministerial Association; Faith Grace Presbyterian Church, Covina; Shilo Ministries; Life Church, Monrovia; St. Thomas Moore Church, Alhambra; Walnut Methodist Church; Holy Family Church, South Pasadena; Evergreen Baptist Church, Rosemead; Tzu Chi Foundation; Hope International Church; Bethel Baptist Church; and Community Initiatives.

SA 3 District Chief, Alfredo Larios, LCSW, welcomed the attendees.  As the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, I provided a brief presentation on LACDMH.  This was followed with a showing of a video on mental health and spirituality by LACDMH Director, Marvin Southard, DSW, and an overview by Kumar Menon (Government and Community Relations) on the LACDMH parameters established regarding the limitations of the collaboration.

The second half of the morning was dedicated to conducting a needs assessment and listening to the spiritual leaders’ concerns.  They identified needs for cross-training between the mental health community and the faith-based communities on each other’s missions.  The faith-based community also identified their need for training on issues such as suicide prevention, anti-stigma, school threat assessment, elder abuse, bereavement training, anger management, domestic violence, substance abuse, and cultural sensitivity training on various ethnic groups and religious faiths.  Concerns regarding mental health clients’ reintegration into the community and establishing a working relationship with local mental health providers were also expressed. 

A follow-up meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena.