Homeless Advocates and Mental Health Consumers Speak Out” highlights the need to support programs that serve persons with mental illness.

I am one of them.

May is Mental Health Month, and I am proud to be part of the effort to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide useful services to those who need them.

Nearly one in five individuals in California report needing help with mental or emotional health problems.

Last year I took part in a peer training program provided by Santa Barbara County Alcohol Drug and Mental Health (ADMHS) and was then fortunate to be selected for an internship with the county, supported by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Workforce Education and Training Program. For six months, I received on-the-job training as a peer recovery specialist in Santa Barbara, working in one of the clinics. After my transition back into the workforce, I was accepted for a position with ADMHS.

I am now, as a peer recovery specialist, able to offer recovery-oriented services to fellow consumers, including Latinos and members of other underserved communities. It is exciting to help people change their lives. I was able to improve my life, due in part to the foresight of California voters who, in 2004, passed Proposition 63 to create a fair funding mechanism – separate from the state’s general fund – for a more pro-active approach to treating mental illness.

Still, many individuals who need help do not seek it, either due to stigma, lack of information, or cost. With continued support form Proposition 63 and the vital programs its funds, I hope to see California become a national leader in offering mental health services that advance hope, wellness, resiliency, and recovery for all.


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