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Letter to the Editor: Local Mental Health Programs Inspire Hope, Wellness

“Santa Barbara County Leaders Implored to Stop ‘Revolving Door’ of Mentally Ill Into Jail” (Noozhawk, April 17) serves as another reminder of the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues and focusing on providing useful services to the nearly one in five individuals who report needing help with a mental or emotional health problem.

May is Mental Health Month, and the Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services and the Mental Health Commission are joining the effort to spread the word about the role that local programs play in improving the lives of people with mental illness and sharing our hopes for a better future.

Much of the most positive work in recent years is due to Proposition 63, a measure passed by California voters in 2004 to create a fair funding mechanism, separate from the state’s general fund, for a more proactive approach to treating mental illness. We know, for instance, that Proposition 63 services are reducing homelessness, acute psychiatric hospitalizations, arrests and incarcerations.

Still, many individuals who need help do not seek it, due to stigma, lack of information or cost. With continued support from all Californians, we can look to a future in which California is a national leader in the provision of mental health services that successfully advance hope, wellness, resiliency and recovery for all.

James Rohde, chairman
Santa Barbara County Mental Health Commission

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