2020 Fennie Community Fund
Legal-name: Mental Health America of Los Angeles
Address: 200 Pine Avenue #400
City: Long Beach
Organizational-status: 501(c)(3) nonprofit
Officer-lastname: Miller, Ph.D.
Officer-title: President & Chief Executive Officer
Mission: Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) works to ensure that people living with mental health needs achieve meaningful, healthy lives in their communities.
ContactFirstName: Molly Ann
ContactTitle: Chief Development & Communications Officer
Grant-purpose: Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) requests grant funding to assist Transition-Age Youth with mental health needs in achieving their educational goals.
What-is-project: Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) proposes to enhance our Transition-Age Youth (TAY) Program by offering additional assistance to our clients to support their educational goals. We will increase staff hours committed to helping TAY navigate educational systems and supporting them through their educational experiences.
The transition from adolescence to adulthood is particularly challenging for individuals with mental health challenges, a population that is over-represented in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and school disciplinary cases and high school dropouts. These young people face difficulties such as poor education, underemployment, increased risk of harm to self and/or others, and substance abuse problems. Over 60% of young adults with a serious mental illness are unable to complete high school. They are often unemployed, unable to participate in continuing education, and lack successful skills necessary for independent living. An estimated 20% of youth receiving treatment for emotional or behavioral problems have either contemplated suicide or attempted suicide — the third leading cause of death among individuals age 15 to 24.
Young adults with mental health needs need ongoing mental health treatment, case management assistance, skills training, rehabilitative services, and assistance in applying for benefits for which they may be eligible, in addition to help accessing higher education or job skills training, housing assistance, and financial help.
Our TAY Program provides diverse services for young adults ages 18 to 25 with mental health needs. In the 2019 fiscal year, a total of 131 individuals received services and achieved the following positive outcomes: (a) 89% were housed in a stable environment; (b) 47% attained employment; and (c) 32% enrolled in school or training. In addition, program results include a 59% reduction in hospitalizations and a 75% decrease in incarcerations. Our priority is to ensure that each individual’s basic needs for housing and physical and mental health care are met, creating a foundation upon which a full, thriving life can be built.
We propose to build on this foundation and contribute to our clients’ future success by committing additional staff time to assisting TAY in reaching educational goals such as completing high school; obtaining a G.E.D.; enrolling in community college or vocational training courses; submitting student grant applications; or utilizing remote access to class schedules, enrollment, and curricula. Some funds will be available to cover fees, supplies, or technology not covered through other sources. This assistance is increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic when the majority of educational opportunities are only offered remotely, presenting an additional barrier for young adults with mental health needs and without adequate resources. Additional staffing hours will provide assistance to TAY in the use of computers to access educational materials.
How-will-you-succeed: MHALA records, tracks, and assesses program outcomes using the Outcomes Measure Assessment (OMA). Detailed information about the enrolling member’s prior year of life is collected at enrollment to establish a baseline. This includes information related to living arrangement, legal involvements, employment, education, and hospitalizations. If there is a change in the member’s status in any of these areas after enrollment, a Key Event Change (KEC) is recorded. The baseline and KEC information determine outcomes such as increase/decrease in hospitalizations, jail/arrests, legal status (i.e. probation), employment, and education, as well as improvement/decline in housing status. Data is reported to the County Department of Mental Health as part of our compliance agreement and aggregate data is provided to program partners upon request and in compliance with HIPAA regulations. We would be pleased to report aggregate program progress to the LBCF upon completion of the grant period.
This data and the detailed tracking of our members allows our staff to accurately and responsibly monitor their progress. It ensures proper follow-up and that individuals are connected to the services they need, including individualized support for achieving educational goals. Our staff document the dates and times they engage with clients and information about the meeting, such as recommendations and utilization across a variety of needs, including mental health, physical health, housing, substance abuse, education, and employment. This documentation allows us to develop individualized plans for clients so we can follow them through appointments and follow-ups, and track and recommend additional support through the program.
The OMA protocol will be followed to assess outcomes related to education, tracking each TAY’s progress toward personalized goals such as completing high school, obtaining a G.E.D., or enrolling and succeeding in college or a vocational training course. In this manner, success will be measured individually. We will know that increasing staff hours to support our members’ educational goals was successful by evaluating aggregate data, with the goal of increasing the percentage of TAY in our program that achieve progress toward their goals.
The program is funded through grants and contracts from government sources and will be sustained, albeit without the enhanced support for education that would be allowed through an LBCF Impact Grant. MHALA continues to seek grants from private foundations to close gaps in services not covered by existing revenue sources. These funds allow us to offer additional services that would benefit our members, such as assistance in navigating the educational system and support in completing educational tasks.
Who-are-you: Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) is a local and national leader in mental health service innovation, training, and advocacy. Our mission is to ensure that people living with mental health needs achieve meaningful, healthy lives in their communities. Each year, we serve more than 9,000 adults and transition-age youth (TAY) who are dealing with mental health needs and are without resources, including Veterans and their families, and people who are homeless or previously homeless. MHALA provides comprehensive, integrated services that meet the needs of individuals where they are. Services include housing, mental health care, medical care, employment, financial, and wellness programs. Our programs include a Housing Assistance Program that moves about 1,000 individuals into permanent, supportive housing each year; Employment Services to assist individuals with mental health needs in securing and maintaining employment; and Veterans Programs to connect Veterans and their families to housing, employment, and other services. The Transition-Age Youth Program described previously provides services for young adults with mental health needs, while the Jump Start Fellowship Program provides classroom education and internships to train individuals to join the mental health workforce.
MHALA partners with diverse organizations to create wraparound services for individuals with mental health needs, including the Long Beach Veterans Collaborative, the City of Long Beach, the Long Beach Continuum of Care, Dignity Health-St. Mary Medical Center, California State University Long Beach, Linc Housing, and others. We currently operate under contracts with the Los Angeles County Department of Rehabilitation, the LA County Department of Mental Health, and the Veterans Administration.
The Transition-Age Youth Program, for which we request funding, offers umbrella services to young adults with mental health challenges, to create a stable living environment that supports living a full life. Key components are mental health services; linkages to resources such as housing, education, medical services, financial aid, and public benefits; employment services such as paid internships and skill-building support; and family services that include counseling and education for family or other social supporters.
The TAY program is funded primarily through a Full-Service Partnership with the LA County Department of Mental Health to provide intensive services with 24/7 response capacity to help individuals address emotional, housing, physical health, transportation, and other needs. A gap in services has been identified in the area of education, as our members, who struggle to meet life’s basic needs, are further challenged in navigating the educational system, accessing remote resources, and completing educational requirements. With Fennie Community Fund grant funding, these challenges can be addressed.