Nancy Lam

The Project

Nancy (she/her/hers) will provide systematic and community-based advocacy and legal support to address access barriers to improve mental health care for low-income children and youth in California. 

In California, 1 in 13 children has a mental health condition and nearly 1 in 6 adults lives with a mental illness every day. Mental health conditions impact everyone, especially minority and low-income children who face tremendous barriers in getting mental health care because of reasons, such as shortage of service providers, language barriers, lack of transportation, and lack of parental availability. Although tele mental health has been used to expand services and address many of these barriers during the Covid-19 global pandemic, effective tele mental care requires privacy, consistency, and technical resources. Without stable housing, adequate space, and reliable telecommunication access, even if tele mental health services are offered, children still cannot effectively utilize them. Since children depend heavily on adults to receive service linkages, additional resources, including legal education and community support are crucial to ensure that parents, caretakers, and service providers know their rights and can help children access the services they desperately need.

Nancy’s upbringing as a first-generation Asian American immigrant and daughter of domestic violence survivor motivated her to become a social worker and later attend law school as an evening student. She is committed to using her clinical and legal skills to help ensure underserved children and families have equal access to quality mental health care.

Fellowship Plans

Nancy will use a trauma-informed collaborative strategy to advocate for at-risk children and youth’s access to community-based mental health services. She will collaborate with service providers to assess their needs and the feasibility of utilizing community spaces and resources to supplement or replace existing service models. She will advocate systematically and create training materials. She will build a network of support to raise mental health awareness and give caretakers and service providers the tools, resources, and best practices of tele-mental health care for children.

This project is personal to me, not only because of my personal experience but also because my work as a social worker confirmed that mental health care is a basic human need.

Nancy Lam /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow