Bio: Reba Stevens, community advocate for over 17 years, has been dedicated to using her real life experiences as a consumer of homelessness and mental health services to improve how these systems can be responsive and accessible to those who need them the most. Prior to being diagnosed with mental illness and beginning the road to recovery, Ms. Stevens lived on and off the streets for 21 years. She recalls the many fears associated with being homeless, depression, stress, anxiety, shame, remorse, incomprehensible demoralization. It is through her experience and deep knowledge of the homeless and mental health systems in L.A. County that she believes that solutions need to be based on an individual’s need and experience. Today, Ms. Stevens works tirelessly as an advocate, making sure policies and the systems that serve those who are homeless and/or are in need of mental health services are central to them. Serving on various leadership bodies within Los Angeles County, she makes sure the voices of those who need help are seriously and authentically heard. She is a member of the L.A. County Health Integration Advisory Board (IAB), the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Homeless Advisory Board and a mental health consumer with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health (DMH) since 1999. Her advocacy has resulted in speaking to various audiences, including the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the LAHSA Board of Commissioners, multiple community college symposiums for the Workforce Education and Training for the Department as an Older Adult Community Outreach (OACOA). She has been featured in the DMH publication, Meetings of the Mind, has shared her story on talk radio, at community events and featured in the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commissions publication titled “HOPE ON THE HORIZON”.
Title of Talk: Unsheltered… New Possibilities
How does this fit in with our theme: My motto is “We all came in on different boats and ended up on the same shore.” Recognizing the importance of meeting each individual where they are and addressing their individual needs.