Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Suicide prevention organizations - Day 1. Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Services

In memory of our son Paul and his December 31st birthday, I plan to post information about a suicide prevention organization each day this month. This first one is local to us - and we have directly experienced its services and programs.

I consider Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Services the organization where we attended the Survivors After Suicide group, a charity near and dear to my heart. We donate to Didi Hirsch at the end of each year. We also walk in its yearly suicide prevention 5K run/walk. A banner with the names and faces of others who have committed suicide is displayed at this event, so we donate to have Paul’s face on that banner. And we attend the Didi Hirsch Erasing the Stigma luncheon every year.

I truly believe Paul felt this stigma and shame, and that is what kept him from seeking help and talking about his illness. The work Didi Hirsch does to erase that stigma and to prevent through its mental health programs and suicide support groups and suicide-prevention hot-line would have been so useful to us while Paul was alive if only we had known that a place like Didi Hirsch existed.

With more than 60 years of experience Didi Hirsch provides mental health and substance abuse services in California’s Los Angeles and Orange counties, regardless of ability to pay. Didi Hirsch serves more than 57,000 clients a year, offering a wide range of services through five divisions:

Service Enhancement accomplished through Best Practices, Training, and Quality Assurance programs

Emergency Services
·      Immediate short-term counseling for individuals and families
·      Survivors After Suicide Program for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. This program includes crisis counseling at the scene of a suicide
·      24-hour Suicide Prevention Crisis Line for people at risk of suicide
·      Suicide Prevention Outreach and Education
Adult Services
·      Jump Street and Excelsior House are crisis residential treatment centers
·      Employment Services help adults with chronic mental illnesses find a job
·      Intensive Mental Health Services/Full Service Partnerships serve adults with serious mental illnesses, which have led to frequent hospitalizations or homelessness
·      Outpatient Treatment for Adults
Programs provide outpatient mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression
Family Services
·      Assistance to Abducted Children and their Families through the Los Angeles Child Abduction Task Force
·      CalWORKs,
a California program, provides assessment and mental health treatment for people on public assistance to reduce the barriers to employment and increase self-sufficiency
·      Child Alert
 offers specialized mental health services for children who have experienced or are at risk of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect
·      Intensive Mental Health Services for Children provides in-home and community-based services to children and families with a need for temporary, intensive mental health services
·      Outpatient Mental Health Services for Children and Families Programs provide outpatient mental health services to children and youth with depression, anxiety, psychosis, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, abuse, delinquency, etc.
·      Parenting Education
Program offers community parenting classes
·      School-based Services provides mental health services to children and teens at schools throughout the service area
Substance Abuse Services
·      Alternative Sentencing Programs
like the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) ‘First Offender’ Program for those mandated to participate in a DUI program
·      The Community Assessments Services Center assesses the mental health and substance abuse needs of participants receiving relief and public assistance and connects them to local treatment providers
·      Community Prevention Programs
seek to increase individual, family and community resilience that will help prevent alcohol and drug related problems in young people and their families
·      Drug and Alcohol Treatment includes individual, family, and group outpatient drug, alcohol, and other substance abuse counseling
·      Residential Treatment (Via Avanta)
 offers long-term substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence treatment to women in a safe, supportive, communal living environment. Children up to age six can stay at Via Avanta with their mothers

S    Some new developments at Didi Hirsch:
·      Interview with the Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks and Kita Curry, Didi Hirsch President/CEO, about the psychological and social factors associated with suicide (October 2, 2010 Los Angeles Times)  

·      Didi Hirsch is one of six agencies in the nation to receive a three-year federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide critical follow-up support to high-risk hotline callers and to suicidal individuals treated at Cedars Sinai Emergency Department  

·      The launch of comprehensive suicide prevention services in Orange County with local partners from the Arab, Korean, Persian and Vietnamese communities helping adapt and translate materials for ethnic and cultural groups

·      24/7 Spanish language support on the crisis hotline

For more information, contact Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Services at

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