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live / 2020

Remote Mental Health Services

Remote Mental Health Services

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services

Vista Del Mar provides counseling and case management services throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area. More than 80% of our clients are from low-income households, and do not have the means to travel to our campus in West Los Angeles for face-to-face therapy. While online therapy provides an opportunity for us to reach these clients, we must first upgrade our technology to enable us to provide video counseling and other online services.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

The need for mental health services continues to expand at an alarming rate. In 2018, a study by the National Council for Behavioral Health showed that not only is American experiencing a mental health crisis, but that the lack of access to care is a root cause of that crisis. Low-income families suffer the most from this epidemic, not only because they cannot afford to pay for services, but because they do not have physical access to these services. Vista Del Mar offers high-quality, evidence-based mental health services on our West Los Angeles campus to more than 1,000 clients per year, without regard for their ability to pay. Our clients come from all over the Greater Los Angeles area, from some of the most under-resourced communities. Knowing that online therapy is the wave of the future, Vista has already begun to offer online therapy; however, our antiquated phone system is a barrier to the growth of this program because it cannot accommodate VoIP or streaming video.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

For more than a century, Vista Del Mar has been an innovative leader in caring for children and families in need. We were the first to establish a cottage-style orphanage in Southern California, to incorporate the nascent foster care system into our services, and to identify the mental health challenges children in Los Angeles faced following World War II. We also built one of only two Level 14+ (24/7 supervised care) mental health facilities for severely disturbed children in California. Our clinical programs have been awarded a Gold Seal by the Joint Commission, the highest level of accreditation possible, and our educational facilities are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). We have been a major front-line provider of mental health services in Los Angeles for decades; as such, this program represents a natural evolution of our services.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Thousands of people across Los Angeles need mental health services but are unable to access those services due to inability to travel. By providing mental health services remotely, we can eliminate that barrier. Mental health is a major cause of abuse, addiction, violence and homelessness. With more people receiving the mental health services they need, fewer children will be abused, fewer people will lose their jobs or self-medicate due to mental illness, and fewer people will become homeless as a result of these problems. Studies show that online therapy services cost less than face-to-face treatment and requires less of a therapist’s time, meaning therapists can treat more people online than they can in-person.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Success for this project will be defined by our ability to provide online therapy services remotely to any client in Los Angeles who needs it. Our on-campus telephone switching system will have been upgraded to accommodate high volume VoIP so that any number of clients can be served simultaneously, if need be. Our therapists, as well as our clients, will have the necessary equipment and expertise to utilize this service as required.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Mental illness
  • Access to mental health services

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Communications support
  • Strategy assistance and implementation