Recognizing Frontline Mental Health Care Workers Serving Los Angeles’ BIPOC Community

July 29, 2021
Pilar Padilla

In 2008, Congress formally recognized Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the US. Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who co-founded the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Inglewood, right here in Los Angeles.

At Children’s Institute (CII), addressing mental health care in marginalized communities is a year-round priority for our frontline behavioral health and wellness staff. We wanted to take a moment to shine a light on staff working directly with Los Angeles communities, and thank them for all they do for children and families.

Meet Ershelle Williams, MFT and Carl Golden, LCSM.


Ershelle Williams, MFT
CalWORKs Program Supervisor

About Ershelle:

I am originally from Virginia and moved to California in the early 1990’s. I earned a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena and certification as a Spiritual Life Coach from Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development under the direction of Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant.  I completed my internship as a marriage and family therapist with CII and have been employed with the agency for the past 13 years. I am currently the CalWORKs Program Supervisor and am responsible for overseeing the implementation of mental health and employment-focused services that support an individual’s transition from dependency on public assistance to employment and self-sufficiency; we use an evidence-based practice called Supported Employment Individual Placement and Support (IPS). Before my current position, I was a CalWORKs Therapist and CalWORKs Program Coordinator.

What motivated you to do this kind of work?

At an early age, I learned the importance of holding the space for others, to support them in making their own decisions while coming to conclusions about their own life. Growing up, my grandfather would always take the time to listen to what I had to say. He would sit quietly, never interrupting, as I rambled on about who knows what. After what seemed like hours of me talking nonstop, he would say, “Now what are you going to do about it?” Though he was a man of few words, I always felt heard and left those conversations feeling empowered. As a result of this experience, it was my desire to be present for others in the same way.

Why is it important to do this work in historically marginalized communities?

I believe sometimes people don’t know what they need until it shows up. Being able to provide mental health services to those who traditionally may not be aware of the benefits or have access to services is important, because it offers change where hope may be lost. Being able to hold space for others to freely express themselves is so important in developing the whole person. This leads to an overall better quality of life.  In my opinion, “Therapy is the best thing since sliced bread.”


Carl Golden, LCSW
Senior Clinical Supervisor – Clinical Internship Program


About Carl:

I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 2002, and went to work for a nonprofit organization in their Family Preservation Program.  In 2004, I began the Master of Social Work Program at USC and completed my Internship at Children’s Institute. During this time, I really enjoyed the organizational culture and was able to establish many positive work relationships. These are two of the main reasons why I returned to CII in 2010 as a full-time therapist. I became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) four years later.  Children’s Institute has provided me with a great opportunity for growth, and I am now a Senior Clinical Supervisor.

What motivated you to do this kind of work?

When I began working in the Family Preservation Program, I really enjoyed the opportunity to help individuals and families achieve goals that they set for themselves. As I continued to help others, my passion for this profession continued to grow, and I worked hard to improve my therapeutic skills to continue helping others to achieve their goals.

Why is it important to do this work in historically marginalized communities?

It is very important to do this type of work in historically marginalized communities, because I have had the opportunity to work with individuals and families who have told me that they felt they had no one to help them. Providing individuals and families with support, even if it is minimal support, helps to improve their overall morale. There are individuals and families who have been successfully linked to additional supportive services, who are still benefitting from and participating in those services and continuing to improve their overall well-being.


This is what Bebe Moore Campbell’s work was all about: lifting up historically marginalized communities hit hardest by the trauma resulting from systemic oppression.

If you or someone you know would like to know more about CII’s behavioral health and wellness programs, please reach out.

If you or someone you know are interested in a career serving children and families in Los Angeles, we’re hiring!