Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to Initiate Innovative Pilot Project to Provide Comprehensive Wellbeing and Recovery Services to Individuals in the Hollywood Region

LOS ANGELES — This week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion instructing the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) to initiate work on Hollywood 2.0—an innovative program to address mental health in comprehensive manner by adding significant services and opportunities to the existing continuum of care. Hollywood 2.0 will test and refine a holistic approach to treating people impacted by serious and persistent mental illnesses, including those experiencing homelessness, in the Hollywood community.

“Every day in Los Angeles, residents see examples of the connection between homelessness and mental illness. This innovative pilot, based in Hollywood where there is not only a high concentration of people experiencing homelessness who also suffer from severe and persistent mental illness, but also important buy-in from various segments of the business, housing and non-profit community sectors, represents a significant addition to our strategy for serving our unhoused population,” said L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl whose district represents the Hollywood area.  “It will provide an unprecedented, coordinated level of care and reduce the number of people who currently cycle from the streets to our hospitals and jails, and back again.”

The pilot program is funded through a $116 million Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Innovation grant, and the board motion’s passage supports LACDMH in using the funding for items including: hiring staff for project planning and implementation; engaging the Hollywood community for meaningful input into the Pilot Project planning process and assist in facilitating its success; and identifying partnerships and resources to support this project’s launch.

“Hollywood 2.0 will bring an array of resources and a new approach to this region of great need and its most vulnerable, many of whom are homeless and or bouncing between our jails and hospitals. The pilot will focus on social determinants and a culture of hospitality first and foremost, as a way to transform our work and the way it feels to those who it targets.” said L.A. County Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin, M.D., Ph.D. “These approaches are critical because our current treatment paradigms fail to bring our most vulnerable into the system and keep them in care for what we all know are chronic conditions. On that note, we must recognize that one of the fundamental challenges in caring for the population we prioritize serving, those with severe and persistent behavioral health challenges, is engagement. To be blunt, engagement is anathema for individuals who are not aware that they are sick in the first place and or those who have tried to engage with existing systems that are not always welcoming and environments that are not always dignified. These aspects of care are front and center in our plans for Hollywood 2.0; it’s not about just being able to see your doctor more frequently. Rather, it’s about being connected to a caring consistent community in real ways.”

Dr. Jonathan Sherin continued, “At L.A. County Department of Mental Health, we like to talk about the need for us all to have people, place and purpose in life because, without them, no one has a chance to flourish. And by that I mean people to love, places to live and recreate and purpose in life. These are the outcomes that we need to be assessing, not simply reductions in symptoms or compliance with medication. It’s much bigger, its about your life and it’s about having a more fulfilling life and being included in community, which we can and will measure in this pilot. I would like to see us collecting basic information about such outcomes for individuals who have been in and out of hospitals, and on and off the streets and in and out of our jails when they are engaged and receiving care in ways that they haven’t been in the past. While this pilot is a humanitarian effort at its core, and that’s what prompts the move, it’s also in my opinion a solid investment and we will see a return on investment on a case by case basis. Further, we will be able to inform CalAIM so that when we revise it as a state in five years, it will truly recognize and fund one of the very core challenges of this field: meaningful engagement.”

New programs planned for development as part of Hollywood 2.0 include a community mental health center, urgent care center, peer respite center, crisis residential program, and a “club house” model social cooperative. These resources are designed with an intention to engage clients in the community and keep them out of homelessness, psychiatric emergency rooms and jails, optimizing their ability to recover while reducing the burden on our first responder and justice systems.

The Hollywood community was chosen for the site of this pilot because of its high concentration of clients with unmet mental health and social service needs. According to the most recent Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, the Hollywood area has over 4,300 people experiencing homeless with over 800 also experiencing a serious mental illness. Once Hollywood 2.0 has been launched, implemented and evaluated, LACDMH seeks to use its success and key learnings to develop similar programs across the County.

As part of this board motion’s passage, LACDMH and its partners will be providing regular updates on Hollywood 2.0 to the board every 90 days, with the first update focused on recruiting program staff, establishing a stakeholder engagement process, exploring partnership opportunities and identifying resource needs.