Last year, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health staff, agencies, families and clients worked together to promote hope, wellness and recovery for people suffering from mental illness. We sharpened our focus on issues facing our community, working to end homelessness, divert people with a mental illness from arrest and incarceration and address the needs of vulnerable children and youth, including those experiencing abuse and trauma.
In the area of homeless programs: Last year, DMH invested $18.25 million in Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds for housing, bringing our total commitment to date to more than $142 million and producing 934 units of permanent housing for youth, adults, older adults and families. In addition, we expanded mental health services in Skid Row and implemented eight homeless outreach teams throughout Los Angeles County. The full implementation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (also known as “Laura’s Law”) during this year brings yet another option for helping DMH reach those who are critically in need of assistance.
In an effort to divert individuals with mental illness from incarceration, DMH expanded Mental Health Urgent Care Centers (UCCs). Building on last year’s successful opening of a UCC on the campus of MLK Community Hospital, DMH expanded the Olive View UCC and re-opened the Westside UCC. Additional UCCs are planned for the coming year. These programs are proving effective. During 2015, law enforcement officers brought 2,612 individuals to these centers for treatment instead of arrest. DMH also expanded teams that partner mental health professionals with law enforcement to more sensitively respond to calls involving those who may have a mental illness, adding capacity in 11 cities and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s north county jurisdiction.
DMH also successfully engaged and supported vulnerable youth with mental illnesses, including those who are homeless, by increasing drop-in centers. And, as part of the Board of Supervisors-initiated multi-agency response for combating the commercial sexual exploitation of our most vulnerable children and youth, the department, with the direct support of Board offices, developed a curriculum and trained close to 300 clinical staff to enhance awareness and increase specific clinical skills for providing trauma-informed care and services to young victims.
We know that collaboration is the key to achieving wellness. We are proud to report that over the past two years, 3,729 individuals have been trained in Mental Health First Aid – including the staff of 7 other county departments, 278 representatives of faith-based organizations, staff of community colleges and housing authorities, and interested community members. We look forward to an exciting 2016—a year in which we will continue to enhance our efforts through partnership.