November 2, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is meeting the moment by continuing to provide essential whole-person mental health care in communities where discrimination or injustice limit access while keeping staff and clients safe in accordance with CDC guidelines.
When the outbreak caused 70% of mental health providers to reduce services or close their doors, we continued to respond to changing and growing needs. Within less than two weeks of shutdowns in March, we had over 300 clinical staff working safely from home so the low-income children, families and adults we serve could receive continuous quality care via telehealth. To ensure no one was left behind, we also reimagined our community clinics so people without access to computers, phones or internet could come in for services.
To ensure callers to our Suicide Crisis Line could continue to receive 24/7 lifesaving support throughout the pandemic, we transitioned most of our team of suicide prevention crisis counselors, which includes more than 220 trained volunteers and 80 staff, to a remote work platform. From our Suicide Prevention Center and the safety of their own homes, our counselors have continued to take calls, chats and texts on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Disaster Distress Helpline, Lifeline’s Crisis Chat and Teen Line. When two crisis counselors tested positive for the coronavirus and half of our Crisis Line workforce had to stop taking calls for reasons related to the pandemic, our dedicated remaining staff worked extra shifts to keep our lines open. Thanks to their efforts, we never had to stop operations—not even for one minute.
Despite personal stress, illness and lifestyle disruptions, our staff have continued to serve clients at all of our 10 sites with empathy and care throughout the pandemic. Their commitment and dedication have allowed us to respond to emerging needs by implementing new and innovative services that follow strict safety measures while maintaining the highest standards of care:
Virtual Survivors of Suicide Attempts support groups: Our team of experts designed safety net features tailored for the online experience to ensure that adults who have survived a suicide attempt and are struggling with recurrent thoughts of suicide can remain safe or get to safety.
Virtual bereavement support for teens: We now offer eight-week support groups to teens who have lost a loved one to suicide. The groups are co-facilitated by a therapist and a teen peer and provide teens with coping skills and tools to help them recover from the intense grieving associated with suicide loss.
Virtual Teen Summit: We transitioned our 5th Annual 3-Day Teen Summit to a virtual experience for 50 teen clients. The Summit provides teens with a range of activities and experiences to broaden their perspectives and thinking, and to help them discover values, strengths, interests and roles within families, communities and the world. Activities included art therapy projects, remote scavenger hunts, games and a Q & A discussion with Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, a mental health advocate.
Suicide Prevention Training for Educators Teaching via Online Learning Platforms: Suicide warning signs are harder to spot in virtual settings than in in-person learning environments. In partnership with the LA County Department of Mental Health and UCLA, we created three videos for distribution to middle- and high-school educators throughout Los Angeles County to train them how to look for warning signs on virtual platforms, how to talk to students and parents about suicide and how to access appropriate tools and resources.
Suicide Prevention for Burning Man 2020: When the iconic desert arts festival decided to go virtual, organizers reached out to Didi Hirsch asking for suicide prevention resources in case any of their 1-million online participants showed suicide warning signs. We provided a package of resources including Dos and Don’ts, recommendations for talking to someone in a suicidal crisis, and how to get support from domestic and international sources.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: As part of our commitment to actively pursue racial and social justice, we have conducted Anti-Racism Workshops for staff leadership across the agency and are working with a consultant to create a DEI Director position to enhance our work in this area across all agency operations.
Laptops for Clients at Residential Treatment Centers: We are providing newly enrolled clients with laptops and radios so they can participate in groups and therapy and have access to the Internet, music and news during the 72-hour period they must remain under quarantine while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
Didi Hirsch is well positioned and at the ready to continue responding to the emerging needs of our community with more innovative strategies, more partnerships and more whole person care to support the recovery, healing, health and well-being of clients and staff.
- Didi Hirsch is providing teletherapy and telemedicine to new and current clients. Intake and appointments can be scheduled by calling 888-807-7250 Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM.
- Appointments are available for clients in crisis who urgently need in-person care at our Glendale, Inglewood and Sepulveda centers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 am to 2 pm. Call 888-807-7250 to schedule an appointment. For information about services available at all of our sites, click here.
- Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center continues to operate our free, confidential 24/7 multilingual Suicide Crisis Lines:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Support and resources for people in crisis and those who care about them.
National Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990
Support and resources for people in distress because of a natural or manmade disaster.
Lifeline Crisis Chat: www.didihirsch.org/chat
Support and resources via chat for anyone in need of emotional support, crisis intervention or suicide prevention services.
- Didi Hirsch is now holding virtual bereavement support groups for teens and adults. For more information about our groups, click here or call:
Teen Suicide Bereavement Support Groups: 424-362-2911
Adult Bereavement Services: 424-362-2912
For tips on staying calm and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.