Covering mental health for Californians

Illustration shows a young women on a couch with a baby in her arms and an older woman sitting next to her
The Times’ Karen Garcia is writing about Latino mental health, and this week published a story about having conversations with family.
(Kassia Rico / For The Times )

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 28. I’m Karen Garcia, reporter for the Utility Journalism Team, which you were introduced to in yesterday’s newsletter. Today, I want to tell you about our mental health coverage.

I’m the youngest of three kids and a daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. My family’s story is a common one — my parents wanted us to have what they didn’t. At times, my siblings and I feel the weight of not wanting to let our parents down while also finding our own paths to success. How does this affect our mental health? What does it mean to be a first-generation child? How do we talk about our feelings with our older family members who aren’t used to doing that?

My desire to explore my own family dynamic and how our collective experiences influence our individual mental health led me to launch Familia, let’s talk about nuestra salud mental. It’s an ongoing collection of stories providing Southern California Latinos with information, resources, first-person accounts, and professional advice on mental health topics — in English and Spanish!


The latest article in the series, influenced by a reader question, dives into why it can be difficult to talk about mental health within our multigenerational families and tips on how to approach the topic when you’re ready to do so. If you have any mental health questions related to your family or multigenerational home, email me: Or fill out this form.

I’m not the only L.A. Times journalist exploring how emotional and psychological well-being is influenced by culture and traditions. Agnes Constante — a freelance reporter in the 2021-22 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism — has carefully researched and connected with the Filipino American community to write about how substance use disorders, the Philippines’ colonial legacy and cultural values affect mental health.

In other mental health news, my colleague Jaclyn Cosgrove recently launched For Your Mind, a newsroom-wide collection of mental health news and resources to help you with the stress of daily life and more.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


A former KTLA anchor’s abrupt departure highlights concerns about Latino representation at news outlets. Lynette Romero’s exit leaves KTLA without a full-time Latina anchor to serve a market in which Latinos make up nearly 50% of the population. Romero will start her new position as co-anchor of “Today in L.A.” on KNBC-TV Channel 4 in October. Los Angeles Times


Will more permanent beds address the homelessness crisis? A recent L.A. County Housing Authority report says that with scarce permanent housing options, unhoused people are staying in temporary shelters — tiny home villages, hotel rooms, transitional housing or even emergency shelters — for long periods. The data, the group argues, speak to a need for more permanent housing. LAist

A South L.A. native promotes bicycling on TikTok. Michelle Moro, 29, knows a lot of people think L.A. isn’t bike-friendly and understands the need for better cycling infrastructure. But she “wants to show people that it’s possible.” The remote events manager bikes at least twice a week and shares her rides under the TikTok username Miche1ada. Los Angeles Times

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Thirteen abortion and reproductive health bills are now law in California. The move by Gov. Gavin Newsom codifies California’s campaign to counter the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. The newly signed laws set the stage for a November ballot measure, Proposition 1, which asks voters whether abortion rights should be enshrined in the California Constitution. Los Angeles Times

Expect high voter turnout this midterm election. The most recent NBC News poll found that 64% of those responding had a high interest in voting this midterm election. People have many reasons for voting, columnist Mark Z. Barabak writes: Some consider it their civic duty; others feel a commitment to their party or a political cause; still others vote to make their voice heard or to keep the opposition out of power. Los Angeles Times

A voter, with his dog, casts a primary election ballot in Los Angeles in June
Dogs don’t count, but voter turnout is expected to be high in November.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California IDs For All becomes law. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1766, also known as California IDs For All, expanding eligibility for the state identification card to all Californians, regardless of their immigration status. In a statement, Newsom said the bill, along with other legislation, would allow street vendors to more easily obtain local health permits and provide immigrant students with improved access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Los Angeles Times

California has the highest fines for traffic and parking violations. SPUR, a Bay Area nonprofit public policy organization, found that the state’s fees for traffic and parking violations are the highest in the nation. After analyzing 2019 traffic stop data at various California locations, the organization concluded that the fees hampered economic progress for low-income people. L.A. Taco


A twice-convicted con artist allegedly went from scamming Manhattan elites to bilking L.A. dive bar patrons. In 2021, David Bloom told neighbors and people he met in bars that he could sell them shares of InstaCart, Coinbase and SoHo House before the companies went public. Twelve of Bloom’s victims handed him more than $190,000 combined and saw zero return, police said. Los Angeles Times

Two prominent L.A. attorneys are under investigation for their conduct in a multimillion-dollar settlement for Armenian genocide victims. A Times investigation revealed how the historic legal case devolved into corruption, diverted funds and disillusionment for ethnic Armenians around the world hoping for compensation. The State Bar of California announced lawyers Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck are under investigation. Los Angeles Times

A true-crime docuseries wants to end subject exploitation. Retired Birmingham, Ala., homicide detective Chris Anderson and San Francisco criminal defense attorney Fatima Silva work on behalf of families who feel their loved ones were wrongly convicted. “Reasonable Doubt,” which airs Tuesdays and streams on Discovery+, is about “understanding the evidence and showing how a case can go from what should have been innocence to guilt, based on one eyewitness or a forced confession,” Silva said. Los Angeles Times

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Is it OK to mix and match the updated COVID-19 booster shots? Yes! With the new bivalent booster, you can get either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna version, regardless of which shot you previously received. The effect on the body’s immune system should be similar, according to Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UC San Francisco infectious disease expert. Los Angeles Times

An ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad and homes in San Clemente. Heavy rains and high surf from Tropical Storm Kay are to blame for the ground shifting under the railroad tracks along the Orange County city’s coast. Worsening erosion near the oceanfront rail line and a fragile landscape also pose danger to the expensive homes perched on a nearby bluff. Los Angeles Times

An Amtrak train passes a seaside area of San Clemente
In San Clemente, train tracks and homes are threatened by erosion and land movement.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

So far this year, the Coachella Valley has had 100 positive samples of the Wes Nile virus. It’s common for mosquitos with West Nile virus to be in the area, particularly around the Salton Sea. The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District has set up hundreds of traps to try to prevent transmission from birds to mosquitoes. Desert Sun

(For tips on protecting yourself from mosquito bites, I wrote a story earlier this buggy summer. Los Angeles Times)


Rehab saved Joel Relampagos’ life and encouraged him to establish free mental wellness programs. Relampagos, an executive producer for “The Biggest Loser,” shares his journey of recovering from alcohol addiction and giving back to the community by creating Change Your Algorithm, free mental health classes online and in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Sandhya Kambhampati, a Times data journalist, writes about living with long COVID. Kambhampati dived into documenting her symptoms but ended up feeling overwhelmed. The reality that no doctor had a perfect solution for her helped her shift her energy toward finding joy, including painting sunsets in Hermosa Beach. Los Angeles Times

Healing practitioner Jerry Tello says traditional healing can fill the gaps in the mental health system. Tello, a former mental health clinician with a traditional practice in Whittier, says traditional Indigenous healing practices aim to aid the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of a person. Los Angeles Times


The perfect croissant is in Ojai. Food columnist Jenn Harris goes early to the Dutchess, a restaurant and bakery where you’ll find “mountains of croissants, trays lined with heirloom tomato danishes, piles of chocolate croissants and croissants stuffed with ham, cheese and mustard.” Pastry chef and partner of the Dutchess Kelsey Brito spent two months perfecting the croissants. Spoiler alert: Jenn ordered “pretty much” one of everything. Los Angeles Times

A selection of pastries from The Dutchess in Ojai
What are you having for breakfast this morning? We hope it’s as tasty as these pastries from Ojai.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Galaxy going back to its old neighborhood, the Rose Bowl. The soccer team announces it will open next season at the Rose Bowl, where the Galaxy played its first MLS game in 1996. They will match up against rival LAFC. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: 94 and sunny. San Diego: 84 and mostly sunny. San Francisco: 73 and sunny. San Jose: 78 and mostly sunny. Fresno: 90 and sunny. Sacramento: 86 and sunny.


Today’s California memory is from Joe Fiano:

When we moved to Oxnard in 1960, my first trip to see the ocean enchanted me. I learned to snorkel in Channel Islands Harbor, progressing to the open ocean at the jetty. I couldn’t wait to take scuba lessons so I lied about my age at 13, and a few weeks later I was standing on the deck of the We Seven boat at Anacapa Island to make my first giant step entry. I’ll never forget the joy and excitement I felt looking down through 40 feet of deep blue, crystal clear water to the black sand bottom.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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