Urgent Alert for Mental Health in Los Angeles County

Please raise your voice to oppose the consolidation of the Los Angeles County Departments of Mental Health, Health Services and Public Health.

Supervisor Antonovich is proposing to consolidate the three health agencies (Dept. of Mental Health, Dept. of Public Health, and Dept. of Health Services) in LA County into one agency. This will be heard at the Supervisor’s meeting on next Tuesday, 1/13/15). NAMI Los Angeles County Council is opposed to the consolidation of the health agencies for the following reasons:

  1. It is critical that the Department of Mental Health maintain direct accountability and communication with the Board of Supervisors and not through another entity.
  2. Consolidating these various health-related departments will make it more difficult to bring attention and funding to mental health concerns. Mental health may not be priority #1 in a new health agency, whereas it is of upmost concern to the current Department of Mental Health. Mental health is the leading form of disability and that element is always lost in the shuffle due to stigma and lack of attention in society.
  3. At the state level, California has attempted to consolidate the Department of Mental Health with Health Services — and years later — they continue to work out the operations and policies. This consolidation of health agencies in Los Angeles will create unnecessary confusion and obfuscation of mental health concerns and issues. This will create operational issues that will invariably decease resources aimed at recovery and wellness for individuals living with mental illness.
  4. The new agency may hire or maintain employees who do not necessarily have expertise about mental health and illness. Or, the new agency may opt to maintain employees with less experience and background in mental health than others. These measures may decrease the ability to make informed decisions about mental health issues at the proposed agency.
  5. We are making some progress on mental health issues via the current Department of Mental Health, which may be halted by consolidation efforts.
  6. The Board of Supervisors should consider stakeholder input in this tremendous decision.

In essence: Our county needs a greater focus on mental health, not less. This is what the state has done and it has not been a smooth transition. Delivery of services requires focus and attention to detail. Burying mental health in an even larger bureaucracy  will reduce focus, not improve it.

We encourage you to contact your Supervisors’ offices to make your voice heard on this matter. Please see the Letter to board of Supervisors 1-9-2015 from Brittney Weissman the Executive Director of the NAMI Los Angeles County Council.   For more information please see the article in the Los Angeles Time. The proposed motion can be accessed on the BOS Agenda.

Please call your district supervisor and let them know how you feel before 1/13/15.  For most of NAMI South Bay Supervisor Don Knabe or Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is your supervisor.  Please connect to their links below to verify and raise your voice.

First District

Hilda L. Solis (213) 974-4111

Second District
Mark Ridley-Thomas (213) 974-2222
http://www.markridley-thomas.com/
Third District (westside)

Sheila Kuehl (213) 974-3333

Fourth District
Don Knabe (213) 974-4444
http://knabe.com/staff/
Fifth District
Michael D. Antonovich (213)974-5555
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