Placer County's Campaign for Community Wellness promotes mental-health awareness

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Editor?s Note: This is part of a series of press releases from the Campaign for Community Wellness on mental health awareness. Campaign for Community Wellness For a complete list of resources for mental and behavioral services in Placer County visit the Placer County Network of Care website at Placer County?s Campaign for Community Wellness promotes mental-health awareness Through statewide funding from the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (MHSA/Proposition 63), in 2005, Placer County launched the Campaign for Community Wellness. The goal of Proposition 63/Mental Health Services Act, passed in 2004, is to transform public mental-health services to improve outcomes for under-served populations and those challenged with serious mental-health issues. The campaign actively promotes innovative community-based wellness programs for individuals in jails and institutions as well as other populations dealing with mental-health challenges. It also strives to educate Placer County residents about the negative effects and costs of stigma associated with untreated mental illness and stress. To date, the campaign has delivered mental-health services programs in the six most populated Placer County areas serving more than 18,000 individuals. Approximately $5 to $6 million per year is spent on programs and services. ?The Mental Health Services Act has allowed our traditional system of care to transform in ways that better serve the community, doing so at a lower cost,? said Richard Knecht, Placer?s Children System of Care director. By better partnering with community-based organizations and those affected by mental illness, we enhance our outcomes and results for those we serve.? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, nearly 26 percent of those 18 and older each year suffer from a recognized mental disorder. ?This statistic equates to one in four people living with some type of diagnosable mental challenge,? added Maureen Baumann, Placer County Adult System of Care and Placer County Mental Health director. ?This is a community issue, and with greater support from the community, we can reduce stigma and support those with mental illness.? Today, there are dozens of nonprofit and other community based agencies using Mental Health Services Act funding to serve at-risk individuals in Placer County. One of the more recent innovative programs of the campaign is the Soldiers Project. The Soldiers Project has provided peer mentors for more than 15 returning veterans and their families to assist in the critical re-integration back into everyday life. This program also provides information to Placer County?s first responders to better assist veterans in times of crisis. The campaign also educates the public about the importance of prevention and the need for community support. Studies have shown that preventing or mitigating the initial challenge with mental health greatly limits the possibility of an individual suffering long term with a mental illness. According to a recent release by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson, Placer County ranked in the top five California counties for overall health. Other counties included Marin, Santa Clara, San Benito and San Mateo. This study suggests that initiatives to better the health and overall well-being of Placer County residents are working. To learn more about Placer County?s Community Wellness initiative and/or to seek help for yourself or for someone with a mental health illness, contact Placer County Health and Human Services at (530) 886-1870.