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Congratulations to L.A. County “Directing Change” Winners

Screenshot from Directing Change awarded film "Monsters of Mental Health"

Screenshot from Directing Change awarded film “Monsters of Mental Health

Congratulations to the creative youth filmmaker who have been honored by California’s Directing Change Program. This statewide contest invites young actors, animators, directors, and producers to use the film platform to raise awareness for mental health, suicide prevention, and cultural identity issues. Nearly 1,000 films were submitted this year, and we are proud that many winning entries came from our very own L.A. County youth. In total, 51 entries from L.A. County were recognized by this year’s contest with awards and honorable mentions.

A recording of this year’s virtual award ceremony – MC’ed by Queer Eye’s culture expert Karamo Brown – and complete list of winning films are available here. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who participated to bring attention to mental health issues, reduce stigma associated with mental illness, and connect viewers to supportive resources and services in their communities.

LACDMH and L.A. Metro Sign Agreement to Provide Crisis Response and Outreach Services Within Metro Transit System

Metro subway boarding platform

LACDMH and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) entered into an agreement this week for LACDMH to pilot the provision of comprehensive crisis response services to individuals experiencing mental health crises while onboard Metro vehicles or at Metro stations.

As part of this pilot, LACDMH will staff Metro-dedicated psychiatric mobile response teams (consisting of at least one licensed mental health clinician and one other mental health professional or paraprofessional), co-response teams (consisting of one clinician and one law enforcement officer trained in mental health crisis response) and community ambassador network teams (consisting of outreach and engagement staff). Once assigned, LACDMH and Metro will work together to deploy these teams where needed within distinct areas of the Metro system to de-escalate crises, provide linkage to appropriate mental health services and educate the community. LACDMH will provide mental health training to Metro staff enterprise-wide and has also commissioned a study to assess and help guide the program as it is implemented.

“Throughout our communities, we see the impacts of a growing mental health crisis, and our Metro buses and rail cars are no exception,” said Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who authored a motion in January of this year to implement critical mental health support and connections to resources including housing on Metro’s transit system. “Many of our residents, especially our essential workers, depend on Metro to get to and from work. We owe it to them to ensure their safety while also providing a compassionate approach to individuals in crisis. That is why I authored the motion to facilitate a partnership between our Department of Mental Health and Metro, and today we formalize that agreement. This will enable the County to deploy mobile crisis response teams to provide services and resources to those in crisis on our Metro lines and put forward a model of how we can utilize a care first approach for residents in need.” read more…

VPAN Support Helps Army Vet Reset, Pursue His Dreams

Recently discharged Army veteran and LA native Hugo was facing some serious obstacles during his transition to civilian status.

That’s when he was introduced to Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN).

“I was trying to figure out mental health care through my Medi-Cal insurance.  I was talking to them and I gave them a little about myself, that I was a veteran and recently separated, and I asked, ‘What could I use out here?’” he recounted.  “They said since you’re a veteran and you’re in L.A. County there’s this thing called VPAN.  I went online and filled out the submission form and they contacted me within just a day or two.”

VPAN is a program within LACDMH connecting veterans and their families to a wide range of services including housing and shelter, income support, benefits navigation, employment assistance, health care and individual and family support.  The program is staffed exclusively by other veterans and military family members as peer support specialists.

“They contacted me very eagerly too,” Hugo said.  “I wasn’t expecting such a fast and efficient response.”  Linkage to services soon followed, supporting him, his family, and his dreams of becoming a fireman. read more…

Join Us for WE RISE 2022 Throughout May

We Rise 2022 Promo GraphicLACDMH is proud to be a part of the 5th Annual WE RISE, a series of community-led events that support health and healing across Los Angeles County. From art installations to cultural experiences, WE RISE events are a chance to connect with each other, access helpful resources, and strengthen our community wellbeing. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and, as the ripple effects of the pandemic, social injustice and global pressures continue, now is the time to come together.

Because youth mental health has been disproportionately impacted these last several years, WE RISE 2022 is centering young people’s needs and experiences in this year’s initiative, though events are open to all L.A. County community members.

This year’s WE RISE programming includes:

  • The monthlong “Culture Cures” program featuring activities to support healing, creativity, resilience, and connectedness.
  • The South Central Film Festival will screen films to amplify the voices of BIPOC, LGBTQIA2-S+, immigrant, and differently-abled communities
  • Community Healing Open Mic” that promotes creative expression for all emotions to be seen, heard, validated, and felt
  • A “Soil to Stomach” food growing, foraging, and preparing workshop to encourage healthy eating
  • The “Here to Queer” Community Fair with live music, free food, and wellbeing resources, led by and geared for queer youth and their families

For more WE RISE 2022 information and updates, visit werise.la and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

LACDMH and Partners Expand Access to Neurofeedback Therapy for Youth and Families

Neurotherapy session

by. H. Chung So, Public Information Officer

To support the wellbeing of systems-involved youth and families, LACDMH providers have joined a pilot project to begin offering neurofeedback therapy to help treat behavioral disorders. While this therapy has been readily available in private mental health care settings, this pilot – which trains clinicians and provides equipment to implement this therapy – aims to expand this treatment’s availability to clients who are on public insurance (MediCal) as well as those who are uninsured or underinsured.

Neurofeedback, also known as neurotherapy, involves connecting a client to non-invasive sensors that detect brain activity and to a device that gives real-time feedback – typically in the form of visual, tactile, and/or auditory cues – to guide and reinforce healthy brain function. With repeated applications – a typical course of treatment is two one-hour sessions a week for 10 weeks – this helps the client self-regulate their brain activity and can provide long-term relief for a broad range of mental health symptoms – including those linked with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia – and can enhance the effectiveness of other mental health treatments, such as psychotherapy and medication.

In the L.A. Neurofeedback Pilot (LANP), supported by Pritzker Foster Care Initiative, clinicians from LACDMH providers and other organizations – including school districts and child welfare agencies – are provided in-depth training on neurofeedback usage and benefits for systems-involved youth and families. Upon completion of this training, participating organizations are provided ongoing support as well as a free one-year lease of neurofeedback equipment to implement this treatment in their facilities, along with the option to buy the equipment at a discounted price at the end of the lease. read more…

LACDMH Prepares for “Hollywood 2.0” to Support the Community’s Most Vulnerable Individuals

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer

Hollywood 2.0

In alignment with its mission of “optimizing the hope, wellbeing and life trajectory of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable” individuals and communities, LACDMH has begun planning the “Hollywood 2.0” pilot project to provide comprehensive, community-based care and services to people experiencing mental illness and homelessness in the Hollywood community. Since receiving the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ unanimous approval in November 2021, LACDMH has worked diligently to lay the foundation to prepare for a robust stakeholder engagement process alongside an expansion of clinical and field services in the neighborhood.

This innovative format of service delivery is inspired by the mental health care system in Trieste, Italy, which is recognized for its human-centered and hospitality-oriented approach to meeting wellbeing needs while fostering a sense of autonomy and purpose to support personal recovery. With this pilot, LACDMH hopes to transform the Hollywood community – which has one of the highest concentrations of individuals experiencing homelessness and mental illness – into a new model of care and engagement that continuously engages with Hollywood residents to identify their wellbeing needs and find ways to meet them.

To support this transformative care model, LACDMH will be increasing its clinical and field-based staff – particularly in its Full-Service Partnership (FSP), Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (HOME), and peer service programs – so there will be more opportunities to interact with current and potential clients in the clinic and on the field.

“Peer workers are particularly well-equipped to do outreach and engagement work because they can apply their lived experiences to help connect with those affected by mental illness,” said LACDMH Chief Medical Officer Curley Bonds, M.D. read more…

Therapeutic Transportation Pilot Program Rolls Out Throughout L.A. County

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer
Therapeutic Transport Vans
LACDMH mental health teams and specialized vans are now embedded at L.A. City Fire Station No. 4 (Downtown L.A.) and No. 59 (West Los Angeles) and actively participating in emergency response calls that come into 911 or to the L.A. City Police or Fire Department as part of the LACDMH Therapeutic Transportation Pilot Program (TTP). Mental health teams respond to a call for someone in crisis in specially designed vans, allowing the client’s healing and recovery to begin from the first moment of contact. All vans are staffed with a psychiatric technician, a peer support specialist, and a clinical driver.

TTP is available at Fire Stations No. 4 and No. 59 seven days a week, 24 hours a day, to provide therapeutic support, de-escalate situations, and ensure safe transit to a mental health center. In the coming months, TTP will become operational in three more L.A. City Fire Stations: No. 40 (San Pedro), No. 77 (Sun Valley), and No. 94 (South Los Angeles). When fully launched, TTP will be operational in at least one L.A. City Fire Station in each L.A. County Supervisorial District. read more…

We Want To Hear From You About Our MHSA Annual Update

Prop 63 MHSA Badge

LACDMH recently posted its annual update for Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) programs and expenditures for FY 2022/2023, giving L.A. County residents and stakeholders an opportunity to review current MHSA services and provide feedback. The public is invited to review this plan and provide feedback by filling out our online survey by April 6, 2022.

In his Director’s Message for this update, Dr. Sherin emphasized the importance of community engagement and highlighted several key expansions and improvements that were informed with public input, such as launching our Community Ambassador Network, expanding our Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (HOME) program, and redesigning our Full Service Partnership (FSP) program. read more…

Much-Anticipated Antelope Valley Community Family Resource Center Opens Doors

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer
Antelope Valley Community Center Ribbon Cutting
Antelope Valley residents welcomed the grand opening of the Antelope Valley Community Family Resource Center (AV CFRC) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early February. The first of its kind in the area, the Lancaster center will serve as a regional hub for residents to access services provided by government agencies and community nonprofits. The center’s programming will include community outreach and prevention-oriented activities that will empower community voice and leadership while mitigating risk factors and increasing engagement, access, and wellbeing. The AV CFRC is located at 44226 10th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534, and is open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

LACDMH invested $1.5 million of funding in FY 21/22 to support the AV CFRC project and two similar centers are planned for the Palmdale and Wilsona/Lake Los Angeles area in the near future. A collaborative project, the SV CFRC is made possible with support from Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and partnerships with Antelope Valley Partners for Health, Casey Family Programs, Children’s Bureau, First 5 LA, L.A. County’s Chief Executive Office, and Department of Children and Family Services.

The AV CFRC completion supports LACDMH efforts to establish Community Access Platforms where individuals organically gather, learn, work, play, and worship; where social determinants of health, which impact an individual or communities, are identified and mitigated and there is timely access to resources.

For more information, check out our press release.

Innovation Project Highlight: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

by H. Chung So, Public Information Officer
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy image

Thanks to support from California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), LACDMH has been able to provide transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat clients experiencing depression symptoms that are resistant to first-line treatment, such as medication and psychotherapy. While TMS was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression in 2008, it has only been primarily available in private healthcare systems, and LACDMH is one of the first public mental health systems to offer this safe and highly effective treatment for our clients.

With TMS, a magnetic coil is placed on the surface of the client’s head and it is then activated to generate a magnetic field to stimulate specific areas of the brain, providing immediate relief from symptoms as well as long-term relief with repeated applications (a typical course of treatment is five TMS sessions a week over four to six weeks.)

“TMS is very effective for treating depression, and is being studied at other organizations for other behavioral conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and suicidal crises,” said LACDMH Associate Medical Director Marc Heiser, M.D., Ph.D. “We are excited to be able to offer TMS for clients who have not responded as well to first-line interventions for depression.”

Heiser also emphasized that TMS is not electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – which involves directly applying electricity to the brain to induce a brief, controlled seizure while the client is asleep under anesthesia. Unlike ECT, clients remain awake during TMS sessions, and it is generally better tolerated with fewer and less severe side effects compared to ECT.

“The magnetic pulses are delivered in very short bursts, and it feels like a tapping on the head,” Heiser said. Most common TMS side effects include headaches and lightheadedness, and they are typically mild and brief. In contrast, side effects of ECT are more intense and can include nausea, muscle aches, and memory loss.

As part of MHSA’s Innovation Project series—which introduces and implements novel mental health treatments and practices to improve service delivery and clinical outcomes—LACDMH has been able to acquire and operate one TMS machine and has treated approximately 60 clients. Based on the positive outcomes of this project, with most patients experiencing sustained relief from symptoms with minimal side effects, LACDMH hopes to acquire more TMS machines and staff so more clients in L.A. County can access this safe and highly effective treatment.

Clients surveyed about their level of pain/discomfort on a 0-10 scale reported an average of “2” during the TMS session and “1” after the session. Most clients also reported being satisfied or very satisfied with TMS treatments, and clinical evaluations of depression symptoms have shown improvement following TMS treatment with a significant reduction in symptom severity.

Given the proven benefits of TMS in the current MHSA project – Heiser said LACDMH plans to apply for additional MHSA innovation project support to acquire more TMS machines and hire staff to operate them. This, as well as Medicaid’s upcoming coverage of TMS treatments in July 2023, would expand its availability to more clients throughout L.A. County. Furthermore, Heiser said FDA may approve TMS to treat additional behavioral conditions given its promising results from clinical trials, expanding its use potential for a wider group of clients. (Note: LACDMH is only providing TMS therapy for FDA-approved uses and is not a participant in these clinical studies.)

Currently, clients of LACDMH directly operated clinics can speak to their mental health care provider to be considered for TMS therapy for depression. Once additional machines and staff are available and online, Heiser expects our department to be able to provide TMS therapy to clients of LACDMH contract providers as well. To learn more about this treatment, visit the TMS page on the National Institute of Mental Health’s website.

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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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