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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

Meeting Unmet Mental Health Needs and Trauma

Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) is one of the largest and most comprehensive social service and mental health agencies in Los Angeles County. Serving over 16,000 people annually, the agency provides integrated mental healthcare, healthcare, employment, education, housing, wellness and financial services to youth and adults who are without resources, including Veterans and individuals and families who are without housing. With a staff of 400 working out of 27 LA County sites, the agency brings services wherever they are needed.

MHALA has a long history of advocating for mental health systems change and providing training for the mental health workforce. Established in 1924, the agency was one of the pioneers of the recovery model, now widely used across the United States, which meets individuals where they are, focuses on strengths, respects client choice, and integrates care. MHALA believes that people who have faced mental health challenges can and do recover.

In recent years, MHALA has expanded its mission to address the growing level of unmet mental health needs and trauma across our communities. MHALA recognizes that mental health is not a binary phenomenon where people either have a mental health diagnosis or they don’t, but rather a continuum of mental health needs. To address these needs, the agency has launched “Project Resilience,” which aims to make mental wellness accessible to everyone. Increased numbers of people are experiencing trauma, anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and helplessness in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. MHALA’s demand for our mental health services has increased dramatically in the last few years, with increased numbers of people also dealing with physical health and substance use problems and financial hardships. Through Project Resilience, the agency is helping people deal with past traumas and fortifying them to cope with future trauma.

A key area of recent growth for MHALA is services to transitional age youth, recognizing that mental health, financial and educational challenges have hit youth especially hard in recent years. MHALA has grown the scope and size of its youth services to meet this urgent need, providing these youth with the individualized services they need today to flourish in the future. Similarly, to meet the urgent needs of Veterans today, MHALA has developed a large and robust Veterans’ services department.

MHALA provides services through multidisciplinary teams that include mental health, medical, employment, housing, wellness, and financial specialists. The goal is to provide each person with the array of integrated servicers that they need and want.

MHALA is proud of its equity, diversity, and inclusion – both in its internal operations and outward facing programs. More than 72 percent of those the agency serves are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), and more than 76 percent of our staff are BIPOC. Two-thirds of the agency’s leaders (staff at the level of manager or above) are BIPOC. MHALA also employs many LGBTQ staff. Over 25% of MHALA staff have lived experience or family experience with poverty or mental or physical health challenges. The MHALA Board of Directors is 36% BIPOC, and its Board Executive Committee is 50% BIPOC.

Mental Health America of Los Angeles is a registered 501c3. Charitable contributions are tax deductible and will be used to support people living with mental health needs. You can contribute in any number of ways — cash, matching gift from a company match, gift of stock or real estate, naming MHALA in your will as a beneficiary, or making a donation in honor or memory of someone.

To donate, please got to mhala.org/support or contact Molly Ann Woods at mwoods@mhala.org.


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