Poster Paper: An Innovative Approach for Improving Mental Health Services in Underserved Communities in Los Angeles County

Sunday, April 9, 2017
University of California, Riverside

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Valerie Acevedo, Anke Xu, Junhong Jing and Ruijie Fan, University of California, Irvine
Objective: Our objective is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of how mental health services offered in Los Angeles County can be improved by using a mixed-methods approach to evaluation.

Background: Evidence shows that nearly 1 in 6 adults in California has “a mental health need” and 1 in 20 has a serious mental illness. Every 1 in 13 children are affected and in Los Angeles County 10% of adults are at risk of developing a mental health illness. In 2015, more than 37% of adults seeking mental health services in LA County reported symptoms of a mental health condition. With the rise in mental health illnesses, around half of adults and two-thirds of adolescents with a mental health illness are unserved or underserved at both the county and state level.

Methods: Our quantitative analysis will explore the relationship between the results of the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ), a parent-report measure of treatment progress for children and adolescents receiving treatment, and various explanatory variables. The YOQ is used as a primary mental health service evaluation tool for various age groups in LA County despite its design for youth and is valuable for monitoring the client’s progress during therapy sessions. In addition, we will conduct interviews and observations of staff and clients and other related participants to produce a case study highlighting the various strategies staff use to manage individual client cases. These strategies will shed light on how successful mental health providers fully utilize resources to maximize efficiency in service delivery.

To identify the most determinant factors that affect the YOQ Score, the research framework will cross-examine the influences of the service provider and the client on the score. We will assess the performance of therapists during treatment sessions and research client biographical data. For example, if we assume females and/or youth from small household sizes are more likely to benefit from mental health services or clients who perform well academically are more likely to be discharged from services early, then our findings may verify these assumptions and can be useful information for mental health providers who wish to redevelop their strategic plan with the goal of improving service delivery for underserved or unserved populations.

Implications: We expect our research findings will lend instruction on how to improve the service delivery of mental health providers in LA County and anticipate our quantitative analysis will provide insights on how to improve the quality of mental health services in California. Our case study will aim to highlight inefficiencies of county-level service delivery and legal procedures that prohibit the mobility of service providers to reach diverse populations in need of assistance.