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What is La CLAVE?

About La CLAVE

La CLAVE is a public outreach campaign targeting Latinos living in Pacoima, San Fernando, Sylmar, North Hills, Panorama City and Sun Valley that not only helps families identify the symptoms of serious mental illness in their loved ones but also helps them seek services promptly. La CLAVE has partnered with local organizations such as health centers, churches, social service agencies, and schools to help those in need obtain early treatment.

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What Are La CLAVE Symptoms?

La CLAVE is a guide to the symptoms of serious mental illness. By identifying the symptoms, we hope individuals will be able to detect serious mental illness earlier.

How to identify symptoms:

Studies have found that people with serious mental illness delay receiving professional help. In some cases it can be years before they receive adequate treatment. There are different reasons that contribute to the lateness in obtaining treatment. One of them is the difficulty of recognizing the beginning of mental illness. Family members, friends, priests, and even doctors and nurses, sometimes do not recognize when someone has a serious mental illness. Here are some steps to help identify when some one may have a serious mental illness that needs treatment.

• Take note if there has been a significant change in the person’s behavior/routine. There may be some change in sleep (too much or too little), withdrawal from social relations, shifts in mood (sadness), or odd behavior.

• Look for evidence of three main symptoms that we refer to as the CLUE or La CLAVE:

Click on images for more information


Creencias falsas

Delusions or false belief is the first symptom of a serious mental illness. A false belief is an absurd or irrational idea that the person believes is real. Usually, people with serious mental illnesses have different types of false beliefs. They think someone wants to harm them. For example, when they leave their house, they think someone is watching or following them. In serious cases they even believe that their family is trying to hurt them by doing witchcraft or wanting to poison them. Also, sometimes they think that the devil is following

“Olga acusa a sus padres de brujeria”

Olga:   “I knew it!  You both caused my divorce with Ricardo!  You put us under that withchcraft all along.  I knew it!”

Padre:   “Oh Olga, hija, that is not true.  We love you and cannot even think of harming you.  We will never do such thing to you.  Do not think that way.  We are here to help.”

Olga:   “No!  I could read minds and I know what you’re thinking about me.  I know the truth!”

False beliefs or delusions

Creencias falsas o ideas delirantes

Example: “He has a camera hidden here and he’s watching me to see if I still love him…”

Lenguaje Desorganizado

Disorganized speech is the second symptom of a serious mental illness corresponding to the letter “L” of the word CLAve. Persons with serious mental illness talk in an incoherent manner. What they say doesn’t make sense and a lot of times they go from one idea to another without relating those ideas.


“Olga habla sin sentido

Madre:   “Olga,  do you still have feelings for Ricardo?”

Olga:    “Well,  Ricardo is my husband and the other day he stopped by then I heard the dog barking but he didn’t bite me.  Dad said he doesn’t want to see him around here.  Did you know that I like flowers?”

Madre:   “Huh?!”

Disorganized speech

Lenguaje desorganizado

Example: “Only if I can fly away with the pigeons and then I can run away to the carnival and buy a vacuum cleaner and clean up the clouds…”


Hallucinations is the third symptom of a serious mental illness corresponding to the letter “A” of the word CLAve. Hallucinations is seeing or hearing someone or something that others don’t see or hear. The letters “v” and “e” of the word CLAve indicate the two types of hallucinations.

Olga ve y habla con Ricardo”

Ever since Olga moved back into her parents’ house they say she talks to her husband even though he isn’t there. Not only does she see him, she also hears his voice!

Olga:   “Ricardo,  you betrayed me!  Why did you listen to my parents?  Didn’t you know that they are doing all sorts of things to control me!”


Madre:   “Huh?!”



Example: “Mistakenly seeing and hearing things that are not seen or heard by other people.”

Two examples are the following:

Ver cosas que no existen

The “V” represents hallucinations of seeing things that don’t exist. For example, a person may say that they see people, things, lights, or spirits that are not there.  They may also see things in a distorted way.

Seeing things that others do not see

Ver cosas que otros no ven

Example: “I saw my dead father but no one else in the room saw him. I know he was there. It scared me.”

Escuchar voces o sonidos que no existen

The “E” represents hallucinations of hearing voices, sounds, or talking to someone that is not present. For example, a person may hear voices, sounds, or laughter that does not exist.  They may say that the voices tell them to do things and you may hear them speaking to these “voices” as if someone was really there.

Hearing sounds or voices that others do not hear

Escuchar sonidos o voces que otros no escuchan

Example: “I was hearing this man yelling at me, swearing at me. But I was alone.”