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Connecting Our Community: News & Updates

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Mental Health Commission Holds Town Hall in Lancaster

On Thursday, January 25, the L.A. County Mental Health Commission held a Town Hall at the Antelope Valley Fair and Event Center in Lancaster, allowing plenty of room for local community-based organizations, residents, clients, and families to attend and voice concerns to the 16-member commission.

Special guests included LACDMH Director Dr. Lisa H. Wong and Anders Corey, Health Deputy for Fifth District County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Dr. Wong acknowledged progress in mental health service expansion in the Antelope Valley, such as the opening of the first mental health center for kids, and also announced the first Peer Resource Center in Antelope Valley, scheduled to open next summer.

Deputy Corey reinforced Supervisor Barger’s commitment to mental health services, reminding the audience of the new Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC), located at the existing High Desert Regional Center. The 9,900 square foot facility serves Antelope Valley residents experiencing a mental health crisis through rapid access to 24/7 stabilization services, assessment and evaluation, crisis intervention, medication support, and case management. The BHUCC includes a Crisis Walk-In Center (CWIC) where residents can be evaluated and receive medication on a short-term basis until they are connected to on-going psychiatric care, if needed. Mr. Corey also highlighted the upcoming adult residential treatment center. Residential treatment programs provide recovery-oriented, individualized plans that promote the goal of becoming self-sufficient and returning to the community.

LACDMH Partners with LAist to Host Queer LA LIVE: Joyful Music

Pictured left to right: Caitlin Hernández, Brittany Campbell, Candace Quarrels, Danielle Lande, and DJ Funky Caramelo at the LAist Queer LA LIVE: Joyful Music event at the Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena on Tuesday, January 30, 2024.

LACDMH was proud to partner with LAist to host Queer LA LIVE: Joyful Music at the Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena. LAist created Queer LA LIVE to open the conversation about LGBTQIA2-S+ life in the Greater Los Angeles area. Each Queer LA LIVE event shares a common theme — joy. This event focused on joyful music.

DJ Funky Caramelo set the tone at the turntables before live performances by Danielle Lande and musical duo Brittany Campbell and Candace Quarrels of Mermaid. After their sets, they sat down to talk to Queer LA LIVE host Caitlin Hernández about their artistic beginnings, passion for music, and the challenges that come with being queer artists in L.A.

LACDMH is committed to supporting the well-being of the County’s LGBTQIA2-S+ community by sponsoring events like Queer LA LIVE as well as providing resources and mental health support to those in need. To find resources catered to the LGBTQIA2-S+ community, visit our website at dmh.lacounty.gov/resources/lgbtq-resources.

Application for Community Care Expansion Preservation Capital Projects Grant Opens on Jan. 22

Repair tools

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) and Brilliant Corners are excited to announce the launch of the Community Care Expansion Preservation Capital Projects Grant Program, which will fund physical rehabilitation improvements for licensed adult residential facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, and residential care facilities for the chronically ill located within the County. This grant program will provide a minimum of $50,000 per facility to eligible awardees.

Funding for the program is being made available through Assembly Bill (AB) 172, which established a state-wide effort to expand the state’s housing and care continuum, improve treatment outcomes, and prevent the cycle of homelessness or unnecessary institutionalization. In Los Angeles County, $55.5 million will be utilized to fund the Community Care Expansion Preservation Capital Projects Grant Program to help preserve licensed residential care facilities in need of critical repairs that may impact their licensing status, and health/safety related repairs or required upgrades, thereby potentially preventing facility closures which could result in exits to homelessness. LACDMH committed an additional $11.2 million of Mental Health Services Act funds toward this effort for a total of $66.7 million.

LACDA will administer and implement the program on behalf of the County and will partner with Brilliant Corners, with funding received from Cedars-Sinai and administered by the California Community Foundation, to oversee the required physical needs assessments to determine grant applicants’ capital improvement needs.

The application portal will open on January 22, 2024, and will remain open for six weeks, closing on March 4, 2024. Application-related trainings will be offered on January 17, 2024, for eligibility and scoring criteria and requesting a physical needs assessment report and on January 29, 2024, for the step-by-step application process.

For more information, to register for these trainings or to apply during the application’s open period, visit https://www.ccecp.org/.

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.”

read more…

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.

read more…

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.

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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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