Stories of Transformation
‘2020 Was My Year’
In a year of a worldwide pandemic, Mental Health America of Los Angeles found new ways in which to continue providing care, assurance, and hope to thousands across LA County.
Powered and inspired by the evolving needs of our community, MHALA reinvented its service delivery, continuing to offer our integrated mental health services with appropriate distance and safety precautions. We partnered with local organizations to open food pantries and provide members — those we serve — with hygiene kits, masks, and information about the prevention of COVID-19. To further reach out to our community, our various centers and programs are now offering everything from workouts to stress reduction sessions virtually.
Also arising from the pandemic was MHALA’s new Street Medicine team, which addresses crucial health needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This year, the Street Medicine and Outreach teams assisted nearly 6,800 individuals, while our Employment Services team helped 545 MHALA members secure jobs.
Kannavie was one of those members. A year ago, the nursing school graduate was mired by depression and severe anxiety. “I was in a gloom. I had no motivation to do anything,” he says.
A social worker connected him to MHALA. Anxiety, however, kept getting the best of him. “It took me a while to make the phone call,” he says. But the moment he did, he felt a sense of comfort — “like I was talking to my twin.”
Having never worked before, Kannavie started with the Employment Program’s work adjustment team doing clerical duties at MHALA in Long Beach, building his self-confidence as he learned how to interact with others at the workplace. Months later, as he became ready to find a job in the community, he and his job developer worked on effective engagement and interview skills, including role playing and body language. She prepared him to begin interviewing for a career in his field — nursing.
Kannavie was hired by the first company who interviewed him. Today, he is not only healthy and employed, but helping to safeguard others’ health.
“MHALA was the push I needed — it was everything I needed,” he says. “Having a routine is so important. Getting up and getting ready to work helps a lot. The self-motivation is there now.”
This was a year where our resiliency was tested. Yet in such a tumultuous year, thanks to committed supporters such as yourself, MHALA served nearly 10,500 members, Kannavie among them.
Our work isn’t done. In fact, our needs are greater than ever. The pandemic has had devastating effects on people’s mental health. The number of people MHALA helped this year increased — due, in part, to prolonged isolation, anxiety, and loss of income. As the pandemic stretches on, MHALA will continue to step forward to help those in need — but we need your support.
This was, above all, a year of gratitude. We are so thankful for your ongoing support, which has allowed us to help thousands of adults and transition-age youth with mental health needs and no financial resources, including Veterans and people struggling with homelessness, live their best lives.
“2020 was a hard year for everyone — but it was my year,” says Kannavie. “In the middle of a pandemic, MHALA got me off the ground.”