Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 1:57 am | Fair 43º


Local News

Mental Health Commissioner Roger Thompson Running for Chairman

The 29-year-old advocate says the position would help him achieve his visions for the community

Roger Thompson, a 29-year-old UCSB graduate and member of the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Commission, says he’s running for chairman of the group, made up of members appointed by the Board of Supervisors who review and evaluate the community’s mental health needs, services, facilities and problems, in addition to advising the supervisors and mental health director on aspects pertaining to local mental health programs.

Thompson may be young, but he says he makes up for it with the energy and zealotry he brings to advocating for mental health issues, and that he “spends an extraordinary amount of time everyday working on it.”

He says he’s eager to tackle the duties of the position, noting that the department has its challenges, especially with the budget continually at stake.

His involvement in the mental health community includes creating the Consumer Advocacy Coalition to organize efforts to stave off cuts to the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services.

His persistent passion has fueled a relatively quick ascension within the committee. He was appointed to the commission by Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr in September 2009 after serving as her alternate.

He says moving from his status as a voting member to chairman would give him added leverage to actualize some of his many visions for the mental health community.

One could say he’s the mental health community’s No. 1 fan — and just like a father, he attends every meeting or event he can, and his encouragement never wavers.

Thompson says he likes to approach issues of mental health services in Santa Barbara from the consumer’s point of view, and would like to see more consumer feedback implemented in the commission’s evaluation process.

He speaks as a consumer of mental health services. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years ago, Thompson says he lost his business and his marriage in a despairing downward spiral. He lived at the Arlington Apartments, operated by the Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers, for two years, and credits Sanctuary as the only thing that stood between him and suicide in the past.

Thompson says he “realizes the significance of the treatment and wants to share his gratitude for the services that existed.” Even if he isn’t appointed chairman, he says he’ll continue to persevere for a community that he and many others depend on not only for health and well-being but sometimes for sheer survival.

The commission meeting will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, June 18 at the Santa Maria Clinic, 500 W. Foster Road in Santa Maria.

Noozhawk intern Lindsey Weintraub will be a sophomore at the University of San Diego in the fall. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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