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Mental Health Awareness Month

As the calendar turns to May, it marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, a crucial period for advocating, understanding, and destigmatizing mental health issues. This year, amidst the ongoing global challenges, the focus on mental health couldn't be more relevant. Mental health is not just a personal issue; it's a universal human right that demands attention, care, and advocacy. It's a reminder that every individual, regardless of their background, deserves access to mental health resources, support, and understanding. Mental health issues often face discrimination, neglect, and lack of resources, hindering individuals from exercising this fundamental human right. One of the primary barriers to mental health care is stigma. Fear of judgment and discrimination prevents many from seeking help or speaking openly about their struggles. In October during LACPA convention Dr. Derald Wing Sue will provide us with the knowledge, skills and tactics that we can use in our continuing efforts to disarm and dismantle racism and bias. 

Access to mental health services is another critical aspect of ensuring mental health as a universal human right. 

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2024 LACPA Presidential Theme: Mental Health as a Universal Human Right

2024 LACPA Presidential Theme: Mental Health as a Universal Human Right
Peyman Raoofi, Psy.D.

Dr. Peyman Raoofi I am honored to serve as LACPA’s president for 2024. My connection to the LACPA community spans over a decade, dating back to 2010, ten years after I emigrated from Iran, and covers nearly my entire career in psychology. LACPA is more than just an organization to me; it's a second family. My journey with LACPA began by serving as the chair of the Student Leadership Committee. In 2011, I received the award for Distinguished Service to LACPA by a Graduate Student. Subsequently, I was elected as Secretary of the Board of Directors. I have maintained my involvement by chairing the Community Outreach Committee. This committee collaborated with the Los Angeles Public Library to organize numerous virtual mental health presentations for the public during the COVID lockdown. I am also grateful for LACPA's support in initiating and executing ten holiday Toy Drives, which have benefited the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.

Beyond LACPA, I have been actively engaged on a global scale. I have held leadership roles in many non-profit organizations and attended multiple meetings of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. I had the privilege of engaging in face-to-face conversations with two United Nations (U.N.) Secretary Generals in New York. In 2018, I was honored with the Mental Health Heroes Award from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Finally, I participated in an advocacy effort led by the APA Office of International Affairs and the Psychology Coalition at the U.N. and our advocacy bore fruit when our resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The resolution, for the first time, encourages member states to work towards integrating mental health into primary health care by 2030.
The theme I have chosen for 2024 is “Mental Health as a Universal Human Right.” Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest standard of mental health. This encompasses the right to be shielded from mental health risks, the right to accessible, acceptable, and high-quality care, and the right to liberty, independence, and inclusion within the community. As defined by the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease. This universal approach is relatively new and indicates a shift in how “the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being,” first enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago, is now understood. A report by the U.N. Human Rights Office highlights that individuals with mental health conditions and those with psychosocial disabilities, experience disproportionately higher rates of poor physical health and have a reduced life expectancy compared to the general population.

The year 2024 offers LACPA and its members a unique opportunity to rally behind the theme "Mental Health as a Universal Human Right." Our collective efforts can enhance knowledge, raise awareness, and drive actions that promote and safeguard the mental health of all. I extend an invitation to all of you to join me in pursuing these objectives: to eradicate stigma, discrimination, and violence related to mental health; to uphold and protect the human rights of individuals with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities; and to advance our comprehension of mental health through scientific exploration, collaborative initiatives, and shared insights. By working together, we can create a community where individuals are supported, stigma is eradicated, and mental health is acknowledged as an integral component of overall well-being. We must ensure that no one is left behind, and that mental health is truly a priority for us all.

LACPA: Your One Stop Shop for all your CPD Needs!

LACPA’s ethos has always been what underpins the goals of the new Board of Psychology Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements:

The ongoing development of multi-faceted competencies needed for quality professional performance through a variety of learning and professional activities.

Here’s how you can meet most (if not all) of your CPD needs through involvement in the Los Angeles County Psychological Association.

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Co-occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders
Natalie Feinblatt, Psy.D.
LACPA Local Advocacy Network (LAN) Chair & Board Member

Image of Dr. Natalie FeinblattCo-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, refers to the presence of two or more disorders or conditions in an individual simultaneously. These disorders can be mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or Bipolar Disorder, or they can be substance use disorders such as alcoholism or drug addiction.

Co-occurring disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat, as symptoms from one disorder can often mask or worsen the symptoms of another disorder. However, it is essential to identify and address co-occurring disorders to provide individuals with the best possible treatment and outcomes.

In the United States an estimated 8.4 million adults experience both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder in a given year. Among individuals with a substance abuse disorder, 43% also have a mental health disorder, and among individuals with a mental health disorder, 20% also have a substance abuse disorder.

The causes of co-occurring disorders are complex and can vary. However, several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously, including:

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Supporting Parents of Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities

Supporting Parents of Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities
Daniel Franklin, Ph.D. LACPA Continuing Education Chair & Board Member

Photo of Daniel Franklin, Ph.D.Language-based learning disabilities (LBLDs) such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD impact over 2.4 million students in the United States and represent over 45 percent of all students receiving special education. When children, teens, and young adults have LBLDs, families often face an array of challenges at school and at home. Parents and clinicians frequently ask me for strategies they can use to make schoolwork go more smoothly for these children. The strategies I recommend address many of the challenges students with LBLDs and their parents contend with day-to-day, but they are not a set of “quick fixes.” My approach is a collaborative method that encourages parents to commit their time, energy, and kindness to improve their child’s learning experience. 

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Welcome to the Los Angeles County Psychological Association!

Welcome to the Los Angeles County Psychological Association!
By Daniel Franklin, Ph.D.
LACPA Membership Committee Chair & Board Member

LACPA Membership Chair and Board Member Daniel Franklin, Ph.D.I joined the Los Angeles County Psychological Association (LACPA) over six years ago. I am a board-certified educational therapist, and I was seeking a strong, clinical organization to be a member of that would represent my interest in the areas of psychology, education, and mental health. I was especially drawn to LACPA because of the many opportunities to connect with psychologists and affiliated clinicians and practitioners.

Upon joining, I quickly took advantage of the opportunity to submit an article to the Los Angeles Psychologist, the LACPA award-winning quarterly magazine. It was gratifying to have my article published in the following issue. I am now one of the co-editors of Los Angeles Psychologist. I also joined the LACPA Child and Adolescent Special Interest Group, which I am now the co-facilitator of.

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