How to find help for a drug or mental health crisis

The number of fatal overdoses in the US fell in 2023 for the first time in five years, according to preliminary estimates recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but UCLA researcher Joseph Friedman cautions that the new findings should not be interpreted as a threat to the nation. The drug and mental health crises are declining.

Friedman has analyzed “deaths of despair” resulting from overdoses, suicide and liver disease due to alcoholism, and found that while death rates have fallen among white Americans, death rates have risen in recent years among people of color in the US, especially among native and Black Americans. Illegal opioids like fentanyl have ravaged Black and low-income communities in Los Angeles.

While it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons behind substance abuse or suicide, Friedman and other addiction medicine and mental health experts say racial inequality, economic distress and historical trauma have exacerbated these problems in marginalized communities.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help due to a mental health, substance abuse or suicide crisis, call or text 988, or chat online to the website of the suicide and crisis line. For mental health resources and referrals, call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's 24/7 helpline at (800) 854-7771.

Here are other organizations offering information, advice and support services:

Nakeya Fields, a licensed clinical social worker in Pasadena, founded the Black Mental Health Task Force, a coalition that brings together mental health professionals, clients, nonprofits, community organizations, educators and others in California to raise awareness about mental wellness. Her Therapeutic Game Foundation offers activities designed to improve resilience and coping skills through creative arts, games and sports. It provides individual, couple, group, and family therapy for Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and other members of marginalized populations.

The American Indian Counseling Center, a division of the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department, provides crisis intervention, 24/7 intensive mental health care and counseling for all ages, as well as physician consultations for medications and referrals to culturally relevant support groups. Call (562) 402-0677 and ask to speak to the staff member on duty.

United American Indian Involvement Behavioral Health program provides outpatient substance use disorder treatment and mental health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives living throughout Los Angeles County. Visit the website or call (213) 202-3970.

Melanin and mental health provides an online network of Black and brown mental health providers that is searchable by geographic area, type of problem, and treatment sought. It is also possible to filter results by racial background of the therapist specialty, but also per insurer.

The Black Mental Health Alliance provides confidential referrals to culturally competent mental health professionals located in the Licensed Therapists database.

Painted brains advocates for mental wellness in underserved communities in LA by offering self-care, relaxation, and therapeutic art and play sessions, support groups, and training for mental health professionals. As part of the peer-led model, many employees have experienced mental health problems themselves. The community center and art space are located at 5980 W. Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center offers individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, group therapy and psychiatric care, as well as support for people struggling with substance use. The center has locations in West Hollywood, at Mi Centro in East LA, at the Trans Wellness Center near MacArthur Park and in the Leimert Park neighborhood in South LA.

The Community Health Project Los Angeles provides services to people who use drugs through a harm reduction approach that emphasizes providing clean needles and education on how to respond to an overdose.

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