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.
Interviewed by: Kevin Miller
Carla Jacobs is a veteran mental health activist who has helped shaped the dialogue surrounding mental health public policies in California. Motivated by family tragedies involving relatives suffering from schizophrenia, Ms. Jacobs began a personal crusade to change the treatment laws for people with severe mental illness. She is guided by a basic principle that access to treatment for mental disorders is a human right as well as an obligation of and a benefit to the society that provides it. With support from the National Alliance for the Mentally (NAMI), Ms. Jacobs has successfully directed advocacy and legislation campaigns to reduce homelessness and the criminalization of people with mental illness by improving standards and practices in community care. She has served two terms of office as a board member of NAMI-California, followed by two terms as an elected board member of the NAMI National Board of Directors. She has also served as Mental Health Commissioner for the County of Los Angeles, as a Governors’ appointee to the Board of Directors of Protection and Advocacy Inc., and as a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor’s Task Force on the Incarcerated Mentally Ill, which was created to give that board recommendations regarding the LA County Jail System. Ms. Jacobs was also a member of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) Reform Task Force, a joint effort of NAMI-Los Angeles County and the Southern California Psychiatric Society. She is on the Board of Directors of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit organization founded by E. Fuller Torrey in 1998 to eliminate barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illnesses.
Interviewed by: Jinah Kim
Makesha Jones-Chambers, Psy.D., is Program Head of the LACDMH Antelope Valley Mental Health Center in Lancaster.
Interviewed by: Howard Padwa
Rose King is a Sacramento-based political and policy consultant, and a family member of several individuals with serious mental illness. After entering politics in 1968 by joining a campaign to recall Governor Ronald Reagan, King has worked for some of California’s most prominent politicians, including Bill Lockyer, Leo McCarthy, and Nancy Pelosi. As McCarthy’s Chief of Staff when he was Lieutenant Governor, King helped initiate the Task Force on Serious Mental Illness, whose findings led to the creation of Integrated Service Agencies throughout California in 1989. She was also the co-author of 2004’s Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act. Today, King continues to advocate for individuals with mental illness and the improvement of the mental health system in California.
Interviewed by: Marcia Meldrum
Eddie Lamon grew up in Oklahoma and Northern California. She became active in school and community affairs as a young mother living in South Central Los Angeles in the 1950s. When she realized the need for mental health services in the community, she became a vocal and determined advocate, serving first on the Regional Citizen's Liaison Committee and on many subsequent Advisory Boards and Committees. Her advocacy has been recognized by many awards and continues to the present day.
Interviewed by: Howard Padwa
Martha Long, C.P.R.P., helped revolutionize the public mental health system in Los Angeles County with her work as the first Director of the Village in Long Beach. After beginning her career as a teacher, Long began working in mental health at The Social Center’s clubhouse program in Fairfax County, Virginia. She moved to California to direct the Integrated Service Agency at the Village in 1990. Under her leadership, the Village grew from an experimental pilot program into a national model, which has been recognized and emulated throughout the state and the country. In addition to her work at the Village, Long has worked as a consultant in several states, and she has also been involved in the Mental Health Services Act stakeholder process in Los Angeles County. Among her many honors, Long has received the International Association of Psychiatric Social Rehabilitation Services’ lifetime achievement award in recognition of her contributions to the field.
Interviewed by: Jinah Kim
Charlotte Lujan is a social worker of Native American heritage at the American Indian Counseling Center in Cerritos, CA.
Interviewed by: Troy Gabrielson
Gaines Lyons was born in Little Rock and grew up in Cleveland. He served in the Navy for four years, studying Chinese-Mandarin and spending time in Japan and the Philippines. After returning to the U.S., he graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in Japanese Language and Literature. He later worked for Project Return Peer Support Network as a mental health advocate, campaigning for the passage of the Mental Health Services Act, and he served as editor of Peer Support News for ten years. Mr. Lyons currently sits on the Mental Health America Village Board of Advisers.