Oral Histories

Clients, families, social workers, advocates, psychologists, psychiatrists, and DMH staff are all part of the fabric of the story of mental health in California and in LA County and how it has been transformed over the years. Each person brings a unique life story and perspective, but all are committed to making life better for those who suffer from mental illness. Here are some of their personal stories.



Gilbert-Gorham, Erin

Interviewed by: Angie Crouch

Erin Gilbert-Gorham is a community worker at Arcadia Mental Health and Wellness Centers.  She works from lived experience to counsel and support clients with co-occurring disorders.


Gray, Gene

Interviewed by: Diane DeMartino

Gene Gray is a Licensed Family Therapist at the LACDMH Antelope Valley Mental Health Center in Lancaster, California.



Hood, Carol

Interviewed by: Howard Padwa

Carol S. Hood earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California and her Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, before joining the California State Department of Mental Health’s Systems of Care Division in 1988.  She managed the State’s effort to shift Medicaid mental health services to a managed care system in the 1990’s, served as Assistant Deputy Director for the California Department of Mental Health Systems of Care from 1998 through 2000, and was promoted to Deputy Director of the Department of Mental Health in 2001. She also played a critical role overseeing the implementation of the Mental Health Services Act, which was approved by California voters in November, 2004.


Hunter, Ian

Interviewed by: Howard Padwa

Dr. Ian Hunter graduated from Occidental College with a Psychology major and earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Oregon in 1966.  He held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Hospital and at the Mt. Zion Psychiatric Hospital in San Francisco and also completed a clinical internship at the Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles.  After teaching at UCLA for a few years, in 1969 he became a staff psychologist at the Student Health Center at Cal Tech.  In 197, he was named Administrator of the center, and developed an Encounter Group program there which helped drastically reduce student suicide rates.  Dr. Hunter joined the LA Department of Mental Health in 1975, as a senior psychologist and Assistant Director of the San Gabriel Valley Region.  When a new Mental Health Center was built in La Puente in 1979, he was appointed as the Director and subsequently became District Chief.  In 1981, Dr. Hunter accepted the position of Executive Director of the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, the job he still held at the time of the interview in 2009.  As a core member of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agency, Dr. Hunter contributed to the development of the Mental Health Services Act.  He is also a member of the Association of Community Human Service Agencies.