As CEO of the Mental Wellness Center of Santa Barbara, I have had the privilege of leading local efforts to improve mental health in our community for 30 years. My experience and perspective is unique as I am not a clinical expert yet I am steeped in the many issues and challenges faced by our clients and their families. At first, I knew so little about mental illness and had such a limited understanding of how it affects people. During my time at the Mental Wellness Center, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how painful struggles can be and how beautifully beautiful the struggle for healing and recovery can be.
The understanding and acceptance of the experience of mental illness has changed dramatically as each of us has had to deal with our own mental health in a changing world.
Perhaps the biggest positive change in 75 years is the willingness to talk about mental illness, the recognition that treatment works, and the high standard of best practice aimed at detecting mental illness in its early stages to minimize the potential for disability.