We Offer Hope
Monica was a good student but suffered outbursts landing her frequently in the high school principal’s office. A teacher referred her to Didi Hirsch as the pandemic shut down schools, but like many kids, Monica didn’t have a computer for teletherapy.
Through a generous donation, we provided a laptop so Monica could meet with a therapist while isolated at home.
After several sessions, Monica revealed she had been physically abused as a kid and now suffered flashbacks that left her anxious and suicidal. Acting out as Monica did is often a sign of adverse childhood experiences, aka childhood trauma. To help Monica process this, her therapist offered an innovative online therapy tool during telehealth sessions. Monica learned to express feelings more effectively and her symptoms and outbursts improved.
Now back at school, she has more confidence, self-acceptance, and impulse control. Most importantly, Monica feels hopeful about her future.
Didi Hirsch ensures those in need have access to transformative, life-saving mental health care. In other words, WE OFFER HOPE TO OUR FUTURE.
This month I was blessed to meet with the US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, and other public health officials and thought leaders for the launch of The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health. Picked up by media outlets everywhere like The Los Angeles Times, the heroic effort is a rare warning and cross-sector call to action by our nation’s highest ranking physician. From healthcare to social media companies, legislators to schools and parents, we must all partner to address the emerging crisis of despair in young people.
Families everywhere have experienced tremendous adversity this year, especially in communities of color and LGBTQ+ identity. Kids have lost parents and grandparents to Covid-19 and the safe, nurturing relationships with teachers, coaches, and friends that normally buffer traumatic experiences. Mental health challenges and suicidality in youth soared—the latest CDC data shows roughly 6,600 kids, teens and young adults died by suicide in 2020.
That’s 6,600 too many.
Didi Hirsch has done whatever it takes for 80 years to serve where we are needed most. Today’s trauma and health inequities are layered upon decades of racism and discrimination in healthcare, especially against those with mental illness. Not surprisingly, our young clients report twice the rate of traumatic experiences of the general population and three times the rate of experiencing three or more. While PTSD and other trauma-related diagnoses climbed this year, 84% of youth showed a reduction in negative symptoms in our care.
We also measure innovation in lives saved. Each day, our crisis counselors support over 350 people 24/7 via calls, chats, and texts—saving the lives of at least 10 people who likely would have died by suicide. With one in four young people seriously contemplating ending their own lives, we took on Lifeline’s crisis texting and within weeks saved a 10-year-old girl and 16-year-old girl, from overdose and a loaded gun, respectively. Our youth engagement on social media is also full tilt, with celebrities from Selena Gomez to Jamila Jameel sharing Didi Hirsch’s message that we want and need fans alive. Tens of thousands of young people replied, sharing recent losses or attempts and thanking Didi Hirsch and our partners for the love and support!
Didi Hirsch’s commitment to quality and innovation also accelerates systemic change. This year we partnered with the LAPD to ensure those with a mental health or suicidal crisis receive immediate Didi Hirsch counseling through 24/7, 911 call diversion. Equity in action, the callers are disproportionately Black and Latino young men now receiving care. Our leadership also secured $20M from the Newsom administration to build critical infrastructure for 13 suicide prevention centers statewide in preparation for 988—a new national “3-digit” number for mental health, substance use, and suicidal crises, rolling out this July. With this funding, Didi Hirsch will become the largest 988 Crisis Center in America!
We lead change with far-reaching social impact from decriminalizing mental illness to keeping our communities and future safe and well.
Your tax-deductible gift will ensure even more Didi Hirsch experts and volunteers support those in crisis. Whether they’re struggling with mental health conditions, worrying about a loved one with thoughts of suicide, or suffering emotionally from natural or manmade disasters, people are reaching out more than ever.
As the Surgeon General noted, now is the time for all of us to meet this historic need. Together we can finally treat mental health as equal and foundational to health. We can ensure world-class, whole-person care and suicide prevention for all children, adults, and families.
Please donate today. It will save and transform lives.
Jonathan Goldfinger, MD, MPH, FAAP
Chief Executive Officer
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services