Santa Barbara, CA — Prior to 2020, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. reported having a mental health condition. Current research shows the figure may be 2 in 5, or even higher. This May, for Mental Health Awareness Month, the Santa Barbara Opioid Safety Coalition (SBOSC) and more than 500 organizations are taking part in the first Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20th, with a mission to encourage and empower people to take a mental health action.

Though more people than ever are comfortable discussing metal health, finding effective resources and knowing how to get help remains a challenge. Thursday, May 20th is a day for taking mental health action, whether for yourselves, your loved ones, or to advocate for systemic changes. Action looks different for everyone and Mental Health Action Day encourages people to do what feels right for them. Some ideas include:

  • Finding a therapist
  • Reaching out to a friend
  • Starting a meditation practice
  • Joining a peer support group
  • Checking in with yourself
  • Researching resources
  • Scheduling your first yoga class
  • Taking action to expand access to mental health care

People with depression or other mental health problems are especially vulnerable to alcohol and drug use. Some may choose to partake in substance use to alleviate stress or emotional pain, but doing so can develop or worsen mental health conditions. Getting help through education, support groups, or counseling can help get people on the path to recovery. 

Treatment of substance abuse might explore abstinence (staying off alcohol or drugs completely) but often include a variety of therapies and treatments. Therapy should explore underlying thoughts and motivations for addictive behaviors and include building self-efficacy and coping with stress. Self-help groups can be effective in helping to establish a support network. In some cases medications such as buprenorphine or methadone may be used to support recovery. Some people find that individual or group support is enough to help, while others need detox or residential treatment.

Mental Health Action Day is being planned by the MTV Entertainment Group and TaskForce, a cultural organizing agency that builds capacity for those taking on the most pressing challenges facing our communities, nation and world. Learn more at

SBOSC knows that now more than ever, it is important for the mental health movement to come together. This is a defining moment, rife with change and conflict on multiple fronts, and an opportunity to come together collaboratively to create the future where we all have hope for recovery.

The Santa Barbara Opioid Safety Coalition (SBOSC) serves all of Santa Barbara County and is a community coalition dedicated to saving lives and preventing opioid misuse through expanding public education and media outreach, enhancing opioid surveillance, preventing overdose and promoting Naloxone distribution, promoting safe disposal practices, encouraging early intervention, and expanding treatment access and recovery.

For more information about the Santa Barbara Opioid Safety Coalition or Mental Health Action Day, you can contact Cindy Loayza at


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