more articles like this
Non-Profit of the Week: Mental Health Association
updated: May 08, 2010, 9:00 AM
The Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County is a private, nonprofit organization that provides support, housing and advocacy to adults and families affected by severe mental illness.
According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in every 4 adults will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year, including anxiety disorders, depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Unfortunately, many live with severe and disabling conditions that impact their lives and their families on a daily basis. If their illness is not understood and they do not receive proper support and treatment, their lives can become even less manageable.
The need is great and government resources are limited. Without the sort of non-governmental assistance provided by the Mental Health Association and other caring nonprofits, many of those most in need would be left underserved.
Since 1947, MHA has helped make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of individuals by providing residential and support services, as well as education and advocacy in the community at large.
MHA's new facility on Garden Street, Building Hope, opened its doors in December 2008 with 51 apartment units that provide affordable space where residents can live independently and feel safe. 38 of the apartments are occupied by people living with mental health disabilities and the remaining 13 are designated for low-income downtown workers.
MHA also offers other forms of residential support including its Housing Assistance Loan Program (HALP) which provides security deposit expenses for rental housing.
Recovery Learning Center at the Fellowship Club (RLC)
The RLC is Santa Barbara's only rehabilitation and social center for people recovering from mental illness. Located on the first floor of MHA's new facility, it provides companionship, education, recreation and self-help activities.
The Care Closet
The Care Closet is a store run by and for members of the RLC to provide clothing and personal items for MHA's clients. Care Closet employees earn stipends for their work, while learning valuable skills that can be transferred to competitive job settings and gaining the satisfaction that comes from productive work.
NAMI Southern Santa Barbara County
The local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and MHA have joined in a unique and rich collaboration to provide families with access to resources and support services in English and Spanish. These free services include educational meetings, support groups and NAMI's Family-to-Family classes for family members of those living with mental illness.
Education & Advocacy
MHA and the local NAMI chapter work together to provide education and support to anyone affected by mental illness. The Family Advocate leads weekly family support groups and meets individually with families to offer free services, referrals and access to public services available in both English and Spanish.
Since its inception, MHA has been a strong voice in the community regarding mental health issues. MHA Public Policy Committee members and individual members participate in public forums at both the local and state level and testify before public officials. The Education Committee is dedicated to providing educational programs in our community that ensure a better understanding of mental illness.
On Friday, May 21st, the Mental Health Association will host its Heroes of Hope Awards at the Lobero Theatre, honoring two leading advocates whose accomplishments support their mission of removing the stigma of mental illness, Steve Lopez and Elyn Saks. Visit www.mhainsb.org for details and tickets information.
For more information about the Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County, please call (805) 884-8440 or visit www.mhainsb.org.
1 comment on this article. Read/Add
# # # #