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By Karen Zarsadiaz, Public Information Officer II

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s (LACDMH) Public Information Office (PIO) taped its fifth segment in the continuing series of Profiles of Hope.   The series of 10-minute inspirational stories features individuals who talk about how they overcame stigma and various obstacles to eventually lead them to a road of Hope, Wellness and Recovery.

The fifth story spotlights Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D., who is a medical doctor, psychologist and psychiatrist.  He works as the Associate Medical Director of Behavioral Health for the Orange County Health Care Agency.  When he’s not at work, Dr. Chau continues to bring awareness to mental health issues as a co-host for a weekly television show, “Viet View”, which is internationally broadcast on Vietnamese television (Little Saigon TV). 

Directed by Joseph Greco, the Profiles of Hope segment was shot on March 16th in Santa Ana.  Greco is known for his feature film, Canvas, inspired by his own experience of living with a schizophrenic mother.

Chau’s story is an inspiring, emotional journey of Hope, Wellness and Recovery.  Born in Vietnam during the war, he and his family escaped and remained at a refugee camp in Malaysia for 13 months.  At the camp, he contemplated his first suicide attempt after being assaulted as a teenager.

“What stopped me from carrying out the thought was that I thought about the difficult time my family went through (escaping Vietnam and living in the refugee camp), and I didn’t want to end my life that way.  I didn’t want my family wondering why.  I couldn’t carry it out that way.”

After the attempt, he remained strong for his family.  They later got the chance to move to the United States in January 1981.  He was 15 years old at the time when they moved in the dead of winter to Lincoln, Nebraska, where his aunt lived.  As soon as they set foot here, wearing shorts and flip flops, his family immediately started working to survive. 

“We needed to work.  My parents were adamant that we would not rely on the system,” Chau explained.  “I arrived in the U.S. at lunch time.  And by evening, I was a busboy at a restaurant where my cousin had a job.”   He kept himself busy by going to school, working on weekends, delivering newspapers and cleaning houses with his family.  Sometimes, the family walked dozens of blocks in the snow to get to the homes.

After graduating from high school and college, he moved to the University of Minnesota for medical school to become a transplant surgeon.  That’s when things changed for him. 

“The first time I got help was when I was in college.  I noticed something wrong there.  I would get into an uncomfortable mood,” said Chau.  “The depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) were really bad.  I was doing bad in school.  I didn’t realize it was depression at the time.”

School administrators performed psychological tests on him to find out why he wasn’t performing at his best, failing at his classes.  It wasn’t until a Korean psychologist at the university heard his story, took interest in his case and evaluated him.  She officially diagnosed him with PTSD and depression.  That’s when he received medication and therapy.

From that moment, he realized that staying busy with school and work kept him from dealing with the depression and PTSD.  When he wasn’t doing something, that’s when the symptoms would appear. 

“Workaholism is the problem.  I know I worked a lot so I would go to sleep without nightmares.  It was a coping mechanism,” he admitted.  “I would have nightmares of the assault, the journey from Vietnam to the refugee camp.  At night, I would wake up with anxiety.  I found a way to cope - to work yourself hard (to physical fatigue).  You fall asleep easily and without having nightmares.”

Eventually, Chau switched from transplant surgery to psychiatry after completing a rotation in the emergency room at USC Trauma.  He found himself spending lots of time talking to the patients after they were treated.  After changing direction, he received his Ph.D. at Chelsea University and completed his psychiatry residency at UCLA.

Nowadays, he finds his own story helps the clients he works with who are also in recovery.  “Because of my personal experience, I’m in tune with my patients and am sympathetic.  I understand what they go through,” explained Chau.  “I think, as a clinician, it’s important to see a therapist.  I think it makes sure we’re healthy to help our patients… I have touch-up therapy.  So, I see someone once a month.”

For himself and his clients, he feels hope is what keeps people moving forward.  He advises clinicians to continue to encourage clients.  “Hope is very important.  It’s on the top of the list of every recovery model.  Hope is important.  With hope, we can survive anything.”

The Profiles of Hope segment and a corresponding PSA, both featuring Dr. Clayton Chau, are among the several that will debut by late spring.  Dr. Chau’s weekly show broadcasts in English and Vietnamese on Little Saigon TV every Monday night at 8PM, or you can catch it streaming live on http://www.littlesaigontv.net/.


Tune in with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) Public Information Office (PIO) as we continue our weekly radio show with Free Your Mind Projects this Sunday morning, April 3rd, on Clear Channel radio station, KTLK-AM (1150AM) from 7:30-8:30AM. 

Grab a cup of coffee and listen to PIO Director, Kathleen Piché, who will be interviewed along with Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D.  Dr. Chau is the Associate Medical Director for Orange County’s Health Care Agency/Behavioral Health.

On this week’s show, Dr. Chau, a medical doctor, psychologist and psychiatrist, will share his own inspiring story of Hope, Wellness and Recovery.  He moved to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam, and experienced his first breakdown while in college as a medical student.  Because of what he has gone through, he knows what it’s like first-hand to seek help, take medication and live successfully in recovery.

Broadcasting every Sunday through May 22nd, the weekly “Free Your Mind Projects Radio Show” provides information about various mental health topics and related issues of the day.  The show is part of LACDMH’s Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) social inclusion campaign.  It creates a forum to educate the public about barriers surrounding treatment for those diagnosed with mental illness, including stigma. 

The “Free Your Mind Projects Radio Show” can be streamed live on www.ktlkam1150.com.  If you miss the broadcast, you can also catch the podcast on the Free Your Mind Projects Web site, www.freeyourmindprojects.com.



By M.C. Harris, Community Worker, Adult System of Care Administration

Hosted by Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS), this year’s 4th annual Homeless Connect Day event was held on February 10, 2011 at South Park, located in South Los Angeles.

HOPICS Service Area 6, along with other Service Area agencies throughout Los Angeles County, hosted these events to serve the homeless.  Five years ago, Los Angeles County began participating in the national Project Homeless Connect Day to provide a variety of resources to homeless families.  Last year, HOPICS, in conjunction with our community providers, continued the great tradition of Homeless Connect Day.  

Homeless Connect provided a variety of resources to attendees with more than 30 provider booths, offering services which included but were not limited to:  rapid HIV testing, on-site food stamp application processing, emergency and transitional housing, low-income permanent housing options, and education and employment resources. 

The event serviced more than 450 households, including 189 homeless and 279 families at-risk of becoming homeless.  The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s (LACDMH) West Central Family Mental Health facility and the Adult System of Care Administration were present, and displayed resource brochures to provide information regarding Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI), Field Capable Clinical Services (FCCS), Wellness Centers, job lead flyers and Transition Age Youth (TAY) resources.  In addition, clothing items such as socks, underwear, makeup kits and toiletries were given to the participants from our LACDMH West Central clinic and Navigator teams.

The experience was truly enjoyable and provided many resources for participants who strive for LACDMH’s motto of Hope, Wellness and Recovery.  Events such as these are just one example of what the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) can provide in our Service Areas to reach local communities.

I truly believe that we should all help one another and work together as a team because being part of a team is really what Hope, Wellness and Recovery are all about.





By Karen Zarsadiaz, Public Information Officer II

The Professional Social Workers Association (PSWA) held its annual luncheon and training on Thursday, March 24th at the Woodland Hills Country Club.  More than 100 Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) social workers and MSW interns attended the event. 

This year, Shannon Mayeda, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., led the morning training session.  Mayeda is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work.  She spoke about symptoms of psychosis and how to address the needs of clients. 

Kita Curry, Ph.D., President and CEO of Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, was the afternoon guest speaker who provided an inspirational talk to the social workers at the luncheon. 

LACDMH Director, Dr. Marvin J. Southard, also addressed the crowd and spoke about the challenges social workers and the public mental health system have been facing.  “I think social workers will play a key role in the restructuring of the public mental health system.  Their roles will change but will remain based on the nature of our field and the wellness of clients.”

As part of the yearly tradition, awards were handed out to the following individuals for their achievements and contributions to the field of social work:

  • Social Worker of the Year, Mary Gonzalez-Veleta, PSW I, Northeast Mental Health Wellness Center

  • Rising Star, Tiffany Liu, PSW II, Arcadia MHC FSP

  • Robbyn Panitch Award, Melisa Attia, PSW I, Central Juvenile Hall
“We hope this is a day for social workers to rejuvenate and to recognize social workers in our field.  It’s also a chance for us to reconnect with our colleagues and learn from one another,” said Anh Tran, LACDMH Supervising Psychiatric Social Worker.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2712 committed to covering the costs for the participating interns at the awards luncheon.   




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By Lorraine Viade, PsyD

Paul is what might have happened if ET did not go home and instead lived in area 52 until he managed to escape.  With many affectionate references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET and with a lot of humor and wit, Paul is a stranded alien who is trying to get back to where he once belonged.  Along the way he finds a motley crew of British comedians and takes everyone on an irreverent wild ride into the galaxy of fun and excitement.

Paul has charm and the sort of in your face honest reactions that remind us that we can all seem alien to one another at times, but tolerance and patience are the ships we need to take those fantastic voyages together.  Paul is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, with a kid’s pack and an open heart for this hitchhiker on his way to the next star.  Whether or not you believe that there is life on other planets, you can still appreciate how helping someone who is lost find their way home is an enlightening and important thing to do. 

I hope that you enjoy this movie with your kids and that you can appreciate the simple lessons about friendship and love that Paul has to offer.  As for me, beam me up Scotty I am ready to hop on board when the spaceship comes!! 


I give Paul 3 couches.

By Kimberli Washington, ITC/Public Information Office


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces
  • Peanut oil for brushing (substitute with olive oil)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Skewer sticks


  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese-style chili sauce or fresh red chilis chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

Peanut Sauce (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame or olive oil
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice (substitute with lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar


  • Prepare marinade first.  Place all marinade items in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth.
  • Pour marinade into a bowl and set aside.
  • Next, mix peanut sauce ingredients in either a food processor or blender until blended well.
  • If sauce is too thick, add a little water and continue to mix until desired texture is achieved.
  • Pour into a small bowl, cover and set aside until ready to serve.


  • Clean and pat dry chicken pieces.  Cut into ¾ inch strips.
  • Add clean, cut chicken to marinade and mix well (coating both sides).
  • Cover and marinate for about 2 hours in a cool place or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Pre-heat grill (George Foreman grill works well with this dish).  Brush grill lightly with oil.
  • Place 2-3 pieces of marinated chicken onto skewers and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Grill for 4-5 minutes until golden (cooking each side equally).
  • Serve with peanut sauce (optional).
  • Enjoy!!!

If you have a quick and easy recipe you would like to share, please e-mail:
Kimberli Washington, kwashington@dmh.lacounty.gov

News and Resources




WASHINGTON (March 15, 2011) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to veterans in crisis and their families in a new public service announcement to raise awareness about suicide prevention resources, such as the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

"As more Veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the critical need for mental health care is rising," said Sonja V. Batten, assistant deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health.  "VA is increasing its efforts to reach out to Veterans in need and their families, to inform them about available services and programs."

The new television spot encourages Veterans in crisis to call the crisis hotline number at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and then push 1 on their telephone keypad to reach a trained VA mental health professional who can assist the Veteran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

So far, more than 379,000 people have called the hotline, and more than 200,000 of these callers have identified themselves as Veterans, family members or friends of Veterans. The hotline has led to more than 13,000 rescues of actively suicidal Veterans.

The hotline also operates an online Veterans Chat program, which provides Veterans, their families and friends with the ability to communicate anonymously online in real-time with a trained VA mental health professional.  Veterans Chat can be accessed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's web page at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/Default.aspx.

Through the hotline and Veterans Chat, VA can connect Veterans and their families with important services, including suicide prevention coordinators, as well as general in-patient and outpatient psychiatric services at VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics.

The hotline, which is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, was started in 2007 as a partnership between VA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 


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Trainings & Community Events




Got a nice, memorable photo you’d like to share with your fellow Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health family?


Here’s your chance to submit a photo for publication in our eNews.  If it’s selected, we’ll add it in!


To get in on the photo fun, send us your appropriate, family-friendly and tasteful picture (in jpeg form).  Please send us only original photos taken by you.


This Week’s Photo:



Submitted by Wendy Escobar, Revenue Management Division, LACDMH


Got a caption for this week’s Photo of the Week? Send us your ideas, and we’ll publish the winning caption for the photo in the following week’s Photo of the Week section.


Good luck!





Behold the Clouding of a Crowding World!
Submitted by Helen Nwangwu, RN, FNP PMHNP, Field Capable Clinical Services, Arcadia Wellness Center


For photo and caption submissions, please e-mail:
Kimberli Washington, kwashington@dmh.lacounty.gov
Karen Zarsadiaz, kzarsadiaz@dmh.lacounty.gov




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