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LACDMH Opens Doors to Directly Operated Koreatown Mental Health Center

Ribbon cutting for Koreatown MHC

On Dec. 7, LACDMH hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the grand opening of its Koreatown Mental Health Center (MHC), which is located on the ground floor of the department headquarters building and adjacent to its Peer Resource Center.

The ceremony included remarks from L.A. County’s 2nd District Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, LACDMH Interim Director Dr. Lisa H. Wong, and SALT 4 Co-Chairs Esiquio Reyes and Pastor Seung Nah. After the remarks and ribbon-cutting, attendees took group tours of the new facility, where they met with the clinic’s staff and learn about the well-being services offered.

At the ceremony, Dr. Wong said that “this clinic has been in the works for a very long time, and it’s a welcomed and needed resource in the community. We heard firsthand from the community how much culturally and linguistically-sensitive mental health services were needed in this area, where Koreans and Korean Americans make up roughly 50 percent of the population. The new Koreatown clinic will allow us to better address the specific needs of this community.”

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Remembering Sunnie Whipple

Bernice Mascher with Sunnie Whipple

Sunnie Whipple (left) with Bernice Mascher (Source)

By Bernice Mascher, LACDMH Cultural Competency Committee Co-Chair

Two days before Thanksgiving on November 21st, 2021, Sunnie Whipple crossed over to join his ancestors. Two thoughts crossed my mind.

  1. First, he would miss out on all the Native American community feasts and get-togethers. He always looked forward to this. However, he was now experiencing a new level of health and thankfulness and fellowship.
  2. My next thought was how much he would be missed here. In the midst of loss, I felt a profound sense of thankfulness to know him, and for the many opportunities to team up with him on outings, events and projects. I will forever miss that.

Sunnie really enjoyed learning new things, engaging with other people, and finding ways to bring about good change. In all these opportunities, he was very proactive in presenting the Native American culture of today in a more realistic and positive light. In many ways, that was also what Thanksgiving was for him, as he enjoyed the get-togethers, the food, and the conversations around the table, including what he thought about the holiday. There were various events and feasts he often attended in the surrounding Los Angeles area, as well as in neighboring counties, as many Native American organizations and churches pulled together community members to gather and enjoy food and fellowship during this holiday.

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LACDMH and Partners Join Forces to Form Veteran Suicide Review Team

Supervisor Kathryn Barger gives remarks at VSRT's inaugural meeting

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer

L.A. County’s Veteran Suicide Review Team (VSRT) officially kicked off with its first meeting yesterday at LACDMH’s headquarters, beginning a collaborative and data-informed process to analyze veteran suicides and look for opportunities to prevent additional suicides in the veteran community.

The partnership included staff and resources from multiple County departments, including co-chair departments LACDMH, Medical Examiner/Coroner, Public Health, as well as additional representatives from Military and Veterans Affairs, local, state, federal, and private agencies. Together, they will systematically examine veteran suicide, with a focus on identifying service gaps or unmet needs so that resources can be enhanced to better support veterans’ well-being.

VSRT’s creation was introduced as a board motion by L.A. County Supervisors Kathryn Barger, and it was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors. LACDMH is the lead administrative agency for VSRT during its one-year pilot phase.

La Tina Jackson, Deputy Director of LACDMH’s Countywide Engagement Division, spoke about the need to address suicide in the veteran community. “The unfortunate reality is that veterans die by suicide at four times more than the national average,” said Ms. Jackson. “They have a 57 percent higher risk for death by suicide than those who have not served. This is the disproportionate but preventable burden that each of us gathered here today has made a commitment to course correct. It is that commitment, that promise to our veterans and their families that we commence and commemorate today.”

Learn more about VSRT.

Celebrating National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month

Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month Graphic

National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 to October 15, celebrates the cultures and achievements of Hispanic-Latino American communities in the United States. For the Department of Mental Health, this month is also an opportunity to focus on this population’s specific well-being needs, especially in identifying and reducing their unique barriers to accessing mental health care. Current and ongoing efforts to address this need include:

  • Around-the-clock availability of Spanish-speaking staff at our 24/7 Help Line, as well as access to third-party services who can translate/interpret additional Latin American languages;
  • Engagement with our stakeholders during program development, implementation, and evaluation, particularly through the Latino Underserved Cultural Communities (UsCC) group;
  • Our United Mental Health Promoters program, which educates Hispanic-Latino communities about mental health issues, stigma reduction, and available supports through LACDMH and its partners;
  • Engagement with Spanish language media and Hispanic-Latino community groups – including schools and faith-based organizations – through our Speakers Bureau, where our experts share timely information and tips on mental health and well-being;
  • Trainings and consultations with our staff to enhance their cultural competency when working with Hispanic-Latino clients and their loved ones;
  • Collaborations with other government agencies, private sector partners, and community- and faith-based organizations to further our outreach efforts to the Hispanic-Latino community.

We look forward to building upon these programs to better meet the mental health needs of L.A. County’s Hispanic-Latino communities.  If you would like to get involved, please contact Dr. Luis Guzman, liaison to our Latino UsCC, at LGGuzman@dmh.lacounty.gov.

You can also learn more about National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, and the Latin American countries that celebrate their Independence Days during this period, on our Cultural Traditions and Connections blog.

Waiting List for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Opening Soon

Person holding key and miniature house

Individuals and families who are interested in participating in Section 8 housing program will soon be able to put their names on the waiting list. This housing choice voucher program aids low-income families to be able to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) will open the waiting list lottery for Section 8 between Oct. 17 to Oct. 30 and interested individuals may apply online through HACLA’s website.

In accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, HACLA must maintain a waiting list for the Section 8 program, and the current list – which was last opened in 2017 – will be exhausted soon.

In preparation for the application’s launch on Oct. 17, HACLA is working with partner agencies and organizations to increase awareness of the HACLA’s application period and process, ensure equitable application access, and support individuals who face barriers with online applications. For more information, refer to HACLA’s announcement letter and fact sheet (English/Spanish) about the waiting list lottery opening, and additional materials will be published on HACLA’s website in early October.

Program Highlight: Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Network

Suicide Prevention PSA English from Los Angeles County Newsroom on Vimeo.
by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer

Launched in 2010 to meet the growing need for suicide prevention and crisis intervention resources, the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Network (LASPN) is a joint effort between LACDMH and its numerous partners who are collectively focused on decreasing the number of suicide deaths and attempts in L.A. County and beyond.

Together, LASPN works to engage communities, raise awareness of mental health issues and resources, coordinate professional and layperson training, and share evidence-based best practices for suicide prevention, intervention, and “postvention” (which supports those who survived a suicide attempt and those who have lost a loved one to suicide).

According to Tracie Andrews, LACDMH’s Mental Health Clinical Supervisor and Co-Chair of LASPN, the network’s formation was an organic process.

“Our department was already providing training, support, and linkage services through the MHSA-funded Partners in Suicide Prevention Program (PSP), and we discovered a wealth of experts and resources in the community as well as a broad range of unmet demand, so we formed LASPN as a way to bring all of our partners to the table and work together to prevent suicides in the County.” read more…

LACDMH Promoters Played Ball with L.A. Dodgers

Dodgers event photo

Earlier this month, we partnered with L.A. Dodgers to invite our mental health promoters for a special event to thank them for their outreach and educational work throughout L.A. County, especially in historically underserved communities. During the event, our promoters and their loved ones had opportunities to tour Dodger Stadium, bat from the home plate, field balls in the outfield, and meet Dodger alums Manny Mota and Mickey Hatcher. We thank the Dodgers for extending this opportunity to our promoters and for their ongoing partnership to raise awareness on mental health issues.

LACDMH’s United Mental Health Promoters program is focused on reducing stigma and increasing knowledge on mental health issues through community outreach, public education, and linkage to culturally- and linguistically-appropriate resources. Visit this page to learn more about this program or to request a promoter service.

Know the Signs and Reach Out for Suicide Prevention Month

2022 L.A. County Suicide Prevention Summit promo graphic

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and LACDMH will join numerous mental health organizations and campaigns – including Know The Signs, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 988 Lifeline, Didi Hirsch, and many others – to raise awareness and inspire action for suicide prevention.

The highlight of this month-long effort is the 12th Annual Suicide Prevention Summit hosted by the Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Network. Held from Sept. 14 to 16, this virtual conference will bring together a diverse group of mental health experts, suicide prevention advocates, and those with lived experiences to share latest findings, personal insights, and practical skills that are vital to saving lives, supporting suicide attempt survivors, and helping those who have lost a loved one to suicide. This year’s summit theme is “Healing Pathways for Support and Connection”, and the events will focus on developing relationships, communities, and networks that foster healing and interaction to enhance collective resilience and well-being.

We have also updated the LACDMH website with suicide prevention resources for anyone seeking support for themselves or a loved one.  We encourage you to seek help if you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health crisis or are having thoughts of suicide, including calling or texting ‘988’ or through online chat on 988 Lifeline’s website. (You can also learn more about the recently launched 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline on our website.)

Program Highlight: School Threat Assessment and Response Team (START)

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer

Established in 2009 and expanded in 2018, LACDMH’s School Threat Assessment and Response Team (START) was developed as a response to the Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007. It identified the need for mental health resources and supportive services to help prevent premeditated school violence.  At the time of its formation, START was the first program of its kind in the nation, bringing together professionals from educational, law enforcement, and behavioral health settings in a partnership to specifically prevent and address school violence.

“What we are here to do is to enhance and coordinate the services offered by school staff, mental health clinicians, and first responders,” said Maria Martinez, Ph.D., START’s Mental Health Clinical Supervisor. “In doing so, we reduce the likelihood of school violence by identifying early warning signs and connecting troubled individuals with appropriate resources before they resort to harming others or themselves.”

To highlight the demand for such services, Dr. Martinez and Miriam Brown, Deputy Director of LACDMH’s Emergency Outreach and Triage Division, cited the findings of the national Safe School Initiative Report. The report, which studied current or former students who attacked their schools through potentially lethal means, found that assailants often show concerning behavior – such as difficulty adjusting to social groups, prior actions resulting in school disciplinary action, and displaying an interest in violence – prior to their planning and initiating the attack.

By identifying these individuals at an early stage and intervening with appropriate services and resources, START staff and their community partners help stabilize their volatile thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, preventing explicit, implied, or hidden threats from escalating into actual acts of violence.
read more…

Grand Openings for Supportive Housing, Restorative Care Village Projects

Grand Opening Events for La Paz Apartments & LAC+USC Restorative Care Village

LACDMH recently participated in two grand opening ceremonies to provide services and support for individuals experiencing mental health challenges.

La Paz Apartments in the East Los Angeles community opened its doors on June 30. The grand opening brought out LACDMH leadership and staff along with Supervisor Hilda Solis, Meta Housing Corporation, Western Community Housing, and LifeSTEPs. This affordable housing development features 42 apartment units, on-site amenities, community spaces, and supportive programs designed to help individuals and families with mental health challenges who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the LAC+USC Restorative Care Village (RCV) took place on July 6. LACDMH joined State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Supervisor Solis, Department of Health Services, Department of Public Works, and LAC+USC Medical Center for the special event, which celebrated an innovative space that provides a full continuum of clinical and supportive services in a central location to help clients heal, recover, and reintegrate into their communities.

Additionally, the RCV will support a smooth transition between different care settings, including psychiatric emergency departments, inpatient units, mental health urgent care centers, residential treatment programs, and community mental health clinics. This allows clients to receive the appropriate level of care to address their needs and support their well-being at all times.

LACDMH is glad to be a part of both of these opening ceremonies, and we thank our ongoing partners and collaborators for making these projects – which will help numerous individuals and families throughout L.A. County – a reality.

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About This Blog

Connecting Our Community” is LACDMH’s blog highlighting our department’s news, updates, and resources for Los Angeles County residents and communities. We hope you find these articles useful for learning about our services and resources to promote your and your community’s wellbeing. If you have questions, feedback, or story ideas for this blog, feel free to contact us.


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