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Advocacy Update: Report on SAAC 2 January Meeting

The Service Area Advisory Committees play an important role in allowing Mental Health stakeholders to give input and feedback to the County Department of Mental Health and allows DMH to disseminate important information to community leaders. It also facilitates networking among the attendees.

DMH Service Area 2 includes the whole San Fernando Valley, Glendale and the Santa Clarita Valley.  SAAC 2 meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Zev Yaroslavsky Family Support Center in Van Nuys at the intersection of Van Nuys and Saticoy. All are invited to attend to learn and to share. Today’s meeting was well attended with about 60 stakeholders present including representatives from DMH and community service providers, peers, families, care givers, and activists.


  • Save the date: April 6, 2019, 10:30 am- 1:30 pm, for The 2nd Annual Armenian Genocide Transgenerational Trauma & Healing, which will take place at Glendale Central Library and is being organized by LA County DMH, SA2.
  • There was a call for volunteers for the annual city/county homeless census, especially because of the disproportionate numbers of homeless with mental illness. It’s important to get an accurate head count because funding and programming is tied to numbers and locations.
  • Several individuals shared problems with getting appropriate level of care for themselves or loved ones and other roadblocks they experienced dealing with private insurance, DMH, or conservatorship programs
  • There was much discussion of the upcoming Mental Health Commission (MHC) Town Hall Meeting next Thursday in Santa Clarita. Because of our county’s geographic expanse, the MHC is scheduling some of its meetings outside of the County Hall of Administration on a rotating basis to improve community engagement.
    • Families, caregivers, peers, advocates and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend.
    • Proposed agenda items include unmet needs in the Santa Clarita Valley as well as information on currently available resources.
    • Dr John Sherin, Director of DMH will be present an overview of the upcoming DMH annual budget plan and answer questions..
    • The meeting will be 11am-2pm at the College of the Canyons, Van Hook University Center, Room 258, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA. FREE PARKING.
    • For those who need a ride, a free round-trip bus will .depart from the Van Nuys Client Run Center, 1415 Hamlin Street, Ste 102, Van Nuys, CA at 10am and will leave the meeting at 2:30 pm for the ride back.

DMH Service Area 2 District Chiefs Update (Eva Carrera and La Tina Jackson).

  • Opening Monday is the new Sheila Kuehl Family Wellness Center in the City of San Fernando. It will include DMH, DPH, DSS, and other county services aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of families. Their will be a PMRT team co-located there.  An expansion of pediatric services for this location is in the works.
  • The planned N. Hollywood Clinic will now be a comprehensive site with plans to co-locate DMH, DHS, DPH, and DPSS programs health program.
  • DMH run clinics will be rolling out electronic client reminders which will come to West Valley MHC as early as 2/13.

DMH Presentation on Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Program

The guest presenter was Jim Randall, LCSW, from DMH AOT where he is part of the outreach team.  Jim is also a member of the NAMI SFV affiliate and currently serves on the NAMI California Board of Directors.

Jim’s well received presentation gave a clear and concise overview of the AOT program. AOT helps people with serious mental illness who are not engaging the system to get the treatment they need. Jim covered the requirements clients must meet to be eligible, the process for referring someone to AOT, the non-coercive outreach procedures that are used to successfully engage most clients, the series of escalating steps that may be taken with individuals who are less cooperative to get them into treatment.  As part of his presentation he gave everyone  a one sheet with information about the county’s AOT LA program as well as the DMH AOT brochure. He devoted a good portion of his limited time to answering questions and concerns from the audience.

Drafting a Charter for SAAC 2 (Your DMH)

Under the current DMH re-organization plan, each SAAC must draft its own charter.  SAAC2 Co-chair, Evy Lowe, LCSW, led a spirited discussion of proposals for the SAAC 2 charter. SAAC2 will end each meeting with work on the charter until the charter is completed and approved.  In each session the group will look in depth into a small section of the charter. A template developed by SAAC 3 incorporating DMH guidance on charters was used to focus our discussion. Today’s discussion covered three sections of the template: Our Vision, Our Mission, and Our Values. Discussion notes will be used to write a first draft of these sections by the next meeting. Inclusion of peers and families; recognition of and responding to the trauma and MH needs of family members, loved ones, and caregivers; and keeping focused on serious mental illnesses were some of the points attendees asked to be included in this section.

After the meeting, selected DMH staff made themselves available to assist individuals with service referrals, address any problems and issues with DMH, and answer people’s questions.

Report on SAAC2 meeting for 1/10/19 by John Hallowitz, NAMI Glendale Advocacy Committee Co-Chair


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