Understanding Obstacles, Charting New Paths



(From left to right) Edward Jason Valdez (Cohort 2-18), Lainey Sevillano (Cohort 3-18) and Prof. José Paez, LCSW.

By Lainey Sevillano

The Los Angeles Department of Mental Health hosted the first ever Filipino Wellbeing Training Summit on February 24, 2018. The day was full of learning, listening, and lambing. The CSUN MSW Department was proud to be a part of this important event.

The team’s presentation titled, “Creating Liberation-based Learning Spaces: Deconstructing Colonialism in Edukasyon” recognized the impact of colonialism on educational institutions and the social work profession, the model minority myth, the danger of the single story, and many other factors contributing to an educational experience that dehumanizes, marginalizes, and maintains the status quo. The presentation focused on how teachers and students attempt to engage in creating liberation-based learning spaces as a way for Filipino MSW students to reclaim identity, history, language and space toward healing from historical and current trauma.


Utilizing the Head-Hand-Heart activity, the team engaged audience members to dialogue about identifying effective strategies to better serve Filipino communities from a liberation-based perspective.

Quotes from presenters:

Prof. José Paez said, “It was so powerful to bring together the Filipino community in a space to actively address decolonization, mental health and well-being. I appreciated the opportunity to co-present with Filipinx MSW students, who shared their stories of struggle, determination, and resilience, which reinforces the hope for creating a more just and equitable world. “

Lainey Sevillano (3-18) felt privileged to be a part of the conference and said, “It was inspiring to learn about what Filipinx folks are doing across fields to fight colonial mentality and practices.”

In a similar sentiment, Edward Jason Valdez (2-18) said, “Connecting with other Filipinx clinicians and brainstorming solutions to combat the Filipinx most dire mental health was both inspiring and empowering for me as a budding clinician.”


Facts about Filipinx, mental health services utilization and provider representation:

*Los Angeles County is home to 374,285 Filipinos, the largest Filipino population in the United States outside of the Philippines. Filipinos are the second largest Asian Pacific Islander population (API) in the County (2010 U.S. Census).

*In fiscal year (FY) 2016-2017 DMH provided mental health services to 1,731 Filipinos, the third largest API population served by the Department. The number of Filipinos served by DMH increased by 33.5% from FY 2007-2008 to FY 2015-2016, but still remains extremely low.

*The largest number of DMH Filipino mental health providers in FY 2015-2016 were marriage and family therapists (36), registered nurses (32), mental health counselors (32), psychiatrists (25), clinical social workers (22) and licensed vocational nurses (21).