LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services joined three Los Angeles City Council members today to proclaim this May ``Mental Health is Health Month'' and introduce Grammy-nominated musician Jhene Aiko as one of this year's campaign ambassadors.
``It's an honor to be here with people that share that same passion of helping people. There's no coincidence that we are on this earth with billions of others, and there's no reason anyone should feel alone in anything that they're going through,'' Aiko said. ``Life is a journey, you know, and it can get tough. And it's important that we're there for one another to help each other get through this journey because it can be beautiful.''
Aiko -- who performed ``America the Beautiful'' at this year's Super Bowl in Los Angeles and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, in 2020 -- was introduced as a Mental Health Is Health ambassador Friday along with MTV Entertainment Group's Laura Merton.
Adia Fadei, a 19-year-old who volunteers at Didi Hirsch and is pursuing a degree in psychology, was named a 2022 Mental Health is Health Youth Ambassador.
``What I really learned throughout all of this is just the power of human connection. I am blown away, not through working at the hotline, but through the people that we're able to serve; the people I'm able to speak to on a daily basis,'' said Fadei.
About 10% of Los Angles residents have thought about suicide in the last year, according to Didi Hirsch CEO Dr. Jonathan Goldfinger. Two L.A. County residents kill themselves on average every day, which is higher than the rate of drug overdoses, car fatalities and murder, he said. For young people in the U.S., nearly one in four have seriously thought about taking their own life, Goldfinger said.
``We've seen mental health issues skyrocket across Los Angeles, in large part due to the pandemic and the stressors that have been associated with this unprecedented lockdown, economic uncertainty and the very real and very tangible health risks that we've all faced,'' said Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who sponsored the proclamation of may as Mental Health Is Health Month.
``Access to care has remained low for so many particularly low income communities of color, which has impacted our homelessness crisis, our mental health crisis, that we're seeing playing out today, here in this city. For 80 years, Didi Hirsch has stepped in to fill this gap,'' she added, noting that the organization was the first community-based adult outpatient clinic in L.A. and one of the first agencies to be federally designated a community mental health center.
Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin said, ``As controller, I can tell you that investing in mental health is a really good use of our money because when we do not invest in mental health, look at the implications that that has for housing, for homelessness, for employment, for education, for the very fabric of our society.''
Goldfinger responded, ``When those investments are ready, we will be there.''