Message From The Director

On July 1st I officially began my new role as the Acting Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. It is an honor to be able to serve the County in this capacity – especially to be able to serve our clients, and the thousands of dedicated DMH employees, partners, and allies who work on the front lines and behind the scenes to provide mental health services throughout our system of care. Some of you may know that I have been a part of the DMH family for many years – 34, in fact, on November 4th this year. I began my DMH career as a student in Skid Row, where I stayed for over 23 years working with people experiencing serious mental illness and homelessness. Most recently, I oversaw DMH’s clinical programs and community-based services as the Senior Deputy Director.

While we have always faced challenges in the mental health world, we now find ourselves at a particularly difficult crossroad where the demand for what DMH can offer is greater than ever, yet we find our resources (and ourselves) stretched thinner than ever. Going into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge to our psyches and emotions, just as much as it is a threat to our physical wellbeing. And as a society, we are constantly confronted with racial and social injustices, as well as the growing mental health crisis experienced by our youth. Sometimes, just as we feel we are making some progress, another hurdle hits. The challenges we face can seem like they are coming from every direction, and even the most optimistic among us can feel overwhelmed.

Especially during these times, I reflect on what I have experienced and learned from working at DMH. I have seen people triumph over impossible situations and come out on the other side in amazing ways. I worked with people in Skid Row who everyone else gave up on, but they were able to embark on journeys of recovery and completely turn their lives around. And when you’ve been a witness to these things you learn that even when you can’t be optimistic, you can have hope.

Last week at our DMH internal town hall meeting, I asked our staff to join me in letting hope move us beyond the challenges and limitations we see around us, enabling us to do better and be greater than what we may even think we are capable of. And as each one of us takes this step, we help the person next to us do better and be greater, and that person goes on to help the one next to them. We are all interconnected in this DMH family, and we are stronger for it. Please join me as we venture forward to meet the needs of the clients, families, and communities of Los Angeles County who depend on us. The best is yet to come.

With Gratitude,

Lisa Wong, Psy.D.
Acting Director, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Read previous Messages from the Director in our “Connecting Our Community” newsletter archive

Last Updated: 8/31/22