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News and Highlights Archives
May is Mental Health Month!
Each May, OVP joins the national movement to uplift the importance of mental health as an important part of overall wellbeing. In support of this goal, the Los Angeles County Gun Violence Prevention Platform seeks to increase access to culturally relevant healing services and mental health support by investing in strategies that promote protective factors such as increasing feelings of belonging and social connection, creating opportunities for healing, and implementing trauma-informed care practices.
To advance this priority, OVP is hosting four opportunities to learn how to recognize and respond to mental health challenges in our community.
Additionally, we created a Mental Health Month Mindfulness calendar to provide an easy-to-use list of examples of mindfulness activities and resources. Click here to access to the calendar and to share it with others!
Together, we can all play a role in normalizing the importance of and providing support for mental health. Join us!
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, bringing the attention of policymakers, service providers, and the public to a largely hidden problem. In the U.S., human trafficking is defined as a crime where one person exploits another for labor, services, or commercial sex, using force, fraud, or coercion. Any commercial sex act including a person under the age of 18 is also considered human trafficking.
The International Labor Organization estimates that in 2021, nearly 28 million people in the world experienced forced labor, or what we call human trafficking. That figure includes over six million people forced into sexual exploitation, 17 million forced into other forms of labor exploitation, and nearly four million people forced into state-imposed labor (such as abusive, compulsory prison labor). About 12% of trafficking cases involve children. These numbers have all increased in recent years, secondary to the COVID-19 pandemic, global armed conflict, and displacement due to climate change. In high income countries like the U.S., over 4 in 1,000 people experience human trafficking.
Labor and sex trafficking happen more often than most people realize, in big cities, rural towns and suburbs throughout the US and here in LA County. Most cases remain invisible. People of all races, ages and genders are trafficked, though people who are vulnerable because of poverty, unstable immigration status, homelessness, and discrimination against them face higher risk.
For immediate assistance related to human trafficking, please call the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking hotline (CAST) at 1-888-539-2373 (https://www.castla.org/) or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to 233733.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Victim Assistance website https://da.lacounty.gov/victims/ht-guide has a guide to human trafficking, including a variety of resources and contact information.
On September 29, 2022, Los Angeles County publicly launched its first ever Veteran Suicide Review Team (VSRT). The VSRT is co-chaired by the Departments of Mental Health, Public Health – Office of Violence Prevention, Department of the Medical Examiner/Coroner, and the Veterans Administration, along with a multidisciplinary team of representatives from the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, City of Los Angeles, Didi Hirsch and other county, state, and federal entities.
The VSRT will evaluate the circumstances leading to and surrounding the suicide deaths of veterans who died in Los Angeles County in order to develop and enhance system-level intervention and prevention measures to prevent suicide among veterans.
The Board of Supervisors approved a motion in May of this year that created the VSRT. At the team’s first meeting, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said: “We have a golden opportunity to use all the resources and expertise we have at county, state, and federal levels to put the pieces of this puzzle together to course correct and prevent the loss of lives to suicide.”
Suicide is a public health crisis that affects every Los Angeles County resident, especially the veteran community. Los Angeles has one of the highest number of veterans of any county in the country. Reducing suicide rates is possible and based on data throughout the country, death by suicide can be reduced.
According to information provided by the Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention, of the 323 suicides identified in the County between January and May 2022, 31 were veterans, all of them male. Nearly 75% of that total were men under the age of 55.
“Every man and woman who served our country that ends up taking their life by suicide was not reached in time,” said Jim Zenner, Director of LA County’s Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and an army veteran, at the kickoff meeting. “We missed an opportunity to connect with them. We must do more to bring them in, to help them feel like they are a part of the community.”
From November 7th – 13th, LA County Board of Supervisors and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (MVA) joins the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers (NACVSO) in their efforts to spearhead Operation Green Light for Veterans. As part of Operation Green Light, county buildings and landmarks across the county will be illuminated green to show support for our nation’s veterans.
In the fall of 2020, the Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) and the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) embarked on a groundbreaking project to record the stories of people across the County whose lives have been impacted by violence. The Storytelling Project resulted in the publication this fall of the landmark book, "Violence, Hope and Healing in Los Angeles County." In addition to the 31 stories contained in the book, there will be additional stories shared on the website.
On November 16, 2022, the Storytelling Project Team that included members from the Department of Arts and Culture, OVP and Creative Strategist Olga Koumoundouros received the Collaboration Award during the Department of Public Health's Giving Thanks Employee Appreciation Event at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The award, which recognizes "Outstanding Commitment to Los Angeles County Residents," was presented by Dr. Deborah Allen, Deputy Director, Health Promotion Bureau, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
TPI Receives 2022 Model Practice Award – National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO)
In August 2022, TPI was honored to be recognized as a “Model Practice” at the NACCHO Annual Conference in Atlanta, highlighting our partnership with community leaders and county departments to build community driven public safety in the county. Click here for a video that was created for the award, and for information about other model practices that were recognized.
2022 Gun Violence Prevention Summit
On Friday, December 9, 2022, the Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention, in collaboration with L.A. Care Health Plan, brought together multiple sectors and subject matter experts for a Gun Violence Prevention Summit, to elevate gun violence as a significant public health crisis. The event was held at L.A. Care headquarters in downtown Los Angeles and brought together over 60 leaders in the fields of health care, mental health, public health, and academia, plus advocates, survivors, and leaders from faith-based and community-based organizations.
During the first hour, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO, moderated a conversation with Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Dean of the College of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University, and Dr. Susan Stone, L.A. Care Emergency Room Physician, and Senior Medical Director. Dr. Prothrow-Stith and Dr. Stone discussed the need for collaboration, system solutions and more research, as well as how agencies and fields can work together to stem the epidemic of gun violence that affects so many communities in the County.
The remainder of the four-hour summit consisted of two breakout sessions in which participants considered these and other questions:
“In what ways has gun violence impacted the people you work with in your area?”
“What work has your organization implemented in the past?”
“How can we improve system coordination and move beyond silos?”
“What are gun violence ideas/solutions that your sector can be involved in to help address this issue?”
The theme of the Summit was best outlined by Dr. Ferrer, in her opening remarks:
“It’s not inevitable that we live with escalating gun violence. We can collectively raise solutions and move to action. Living through the pandemic, we’ve seen the best of how our community comes together to take care of each other.”
January is National Stalking Awareness Month
This January marks National Stalking Awareness Month. In his federal proclamation noting the event, President Biden called stalking “an insidious crime”. According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC), 57% of intimate partner stalking victims are stalked during the relationship, while 81% of women stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by that partner. The SPARC also reports that “Stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times”.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has put together an informative pamphlet in English and Spanish that covers the definition of stalking, what to do if you’re being stalked, victim services, and where to find help.
If you or someone you know is in need of domestic violence services or support. please call the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-978-3600 or visit Domestic Violence Council (lacounty.gov).
Saluting Nicole Rojas in honor of National Native American Heritage Month
Nicole Rojas, born and raised in East Los Angeles, participated in the landmark book "Violence, Hope, and Healing in Los Angeles County." In fact, her story is the first listed in the bound edition.
At the September 30 book launch, Nicole, whose indigenous ancestry is Yaqui, not only appeared on the panel, she performed "Women Warrior Song" by First Nation People in Canada. As Nicole explained, the song is a remembrance of the missing and murdered indigenous people of that country.
"I need to be the voice so they will not be forgotten."
While much progress has been made in that time to support domestic violence victims and survivors, more work needs to be done. According to 2020 data from the National Network to End Domestic Violence, on a typical day, local domestic violence hotlines around the country receive 19,159 calls, or 13 per minute. In 2018, 65% of all murder-suicides in the United States involved an intimate partner; 96% of the victims of these crimes were female. In California, 39.9% of women and 31.1% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
The LA County Domestic Violence Council (DVC) is a leader in the effort to address issues impacting survivors of domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV). The DVC also advises the Board of Supervisors and other County Departments on DV/IPV related issues. On October 18, from noon to 2 p.m., the DVC, in conjunction with the LA City Domestic Violence Alliance, is holding a virtual celebration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The organization will be honoring this year's recipients of DVC awards. For more information, go to: Domestic Violence Awareness Month Awards. (Registration in advance is required to attend this event)
September is National Suicide Prevention Month
Suicide is a significant public health issue and is the fourth leading cause of death in Los Angeles County.
The Office of Violence Prevention and the entire Department of Public Health remain committed to preventing suicide and self-harm in our communities. This includes prioritizing opportunities to learn about suicide, understand the warning signs and risk factors, and engage in opportunities for advocacy and support.
This suicide prevention month:
Join us in attending the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Network’s 12th annual Suicide Prevention Summit, themed “Healing Pathways for Support and Connection. Click here to register.
Explore CalMHSA’s Annual Suicide Prevention Activation Kit, which includes downloadable activities resources for community members, parents, teachers, local governments, and more. (English| Spanish)
Join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a suicide prevention and loss remembrance Community Walk near you.
We all have an important role to play in preventing suicide and self-harm in our communities. Let’s work to end suicide and self-harm together!
Leading with Excellence: 34th Annual Productivity and Quality Awards
The Trauma Prevention Initiative (TPI) receives the Commission Special Award Winner for Outstanding Teamwork Award - TPI: Putting the Public Back in Public Safety.
Read all about the TPI Initiative here.
Public Health Week Celebrates Trauma Prevention Initiative Expansion, April 6, 2022
On April 6, 2022, Public Health hosted a community event highlighting the countywide expansion of the Trauma Prevention Initiative (TPI), at Mona Park in Willowbrook. Each April, Public Health convenes a series of events, along with public health departments across the country, during Public Health Week. This event was a celebration of community partners where TPI began in South LA, the importance of meaningful partnerships with community leaders, and the need for sustained investment in Peer approaches to promote peace and reduce retaliatory violence.
For a summary of the TPI expansion and the event, click here.
Listen to LA County's Department of Public Health's Podcast Episode 7 "Reducing Violence In LA County" featuring interviews with Dr. Ferrer & Norma Garcia, Sup. Mitchell, Andrea Welsing, and Kevin Orange:
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.