Los Angeles, CA—Today, Supervisor Janice Hahn offered a motion to improve access to a system of culturally appropriate and accessible mental health services for Asian-Pacific Islander residents of L.A. County. Her motion will build on existing partnerships with community-based organizations and provide increased outreach to the API community with the ultimate goal of connecting API residents who need treatment with highly trained clinicians who speak their language and understand their culture.
Asian-Pacific Islanders, or APIs, are the fastest-growing immigrant group in California and now make up over fifteen percent of Los Angeles County’s population. Language barriers and culturally specific stigmas surrounding mental health prevent many, however, from receiving the mental healthcare they deserve. As a result, many APIs don’t receive the care they need. In fact, API patients make up just four percent of the total patients who receive care from the Department of Mental Health.
The Supervisor’s motion will refresh the County’s commitment to eliminating disparities among the populations we serve by directing the Director of Mental Health to work with these organizations to develop a five year plan to significantly increase the capacity of APIs that are being served in this County.
“It is imperative that tax paying citizens have equal access to government funded healthcare regardless of the language they speak, the country their family immigrated from, or the color of their skin,” said Supervisor Hahn. “The passage of today’s motion ensures that more and more API residents will receive mental health care from trained experts who speak their language and understand their unique cultures.”
Marki Khahn, the executive director of Pacific Asian Counseling Services, said: “Every day the staff at my agency treats many APIs. I’m struck by how long these folks wait until they get help… Too often they can’t overcome the challenges of approaching a place that doesn’t speak their language or understand their needs. Sometimes it’s stigma or shame. The result is that APIs have a huge disparity gap. It isn’t because they don’t need services, it’s because they can’t access them.”