The Rutherford Report: DBH Sheds Light on Mental Health

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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

—Henry David Thoreau
DBH Sheds Light on Mental Health

The San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) is working to remove the barriers that prevent people from seeking help for mental health concerns through its Prevention and Early Intervention programs.

“It’s much easier to talk about the history of diabetes in a family than it is to talk about the history of mental health issues,” said Michelle Dusick, who coordinates programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act for DBH. “What we are trying to do is to change that culture.”

Too often, the stigma associated with mental illness makes people reluctant to seek help when they need it. Bottling up those problems doesn’t make them go away, and sooner or later, they can begin to have serious impacts on people’s daily lives, including their work and interactions with family and friends.

DBH wants people to understand that mental health is no different than physical health and that they shouldn’t be scared to ask for help.

“Mental health and your emotional health are part of your overall well-being,’ Dusick said.

Mental health first aid classes are one of the ways DBH is educating people about mental illness. The classes aim to train individuals how to talk with someone who may be experiencing behavioral health concerns, such as drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, or depression and how to get that person help.

These sorts of classes are provided through community-based organizations throughout the county, including West End Family Counseling, Reach Out West End, Bilingual Family Counseling, Ontario-Montclair School District, and South Coast Community Counseling.

DBH has also partnered with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools to train teachers, principals, guidance counselors, secretaries and custodians on how to recognize when students may be facing a behavioral health issue and how to get them help.

“Sometimes custodians give the best referrals because they see what’s going on outside the classroom. Everyone should be concerned with mental and emotional wellness. It’s up to us,” Dusick said.

DBH, in collaboration with other counties and the California Mental Health Services Authority, also hosted a competition where high school students created public service announcements about suicide prevention after learning about the often-subtle signs that someone may be planning to end their life.

“We could have put something together ourselves, but they wouldn’t have engaged in it as much,” said Sarah Eberhardt-Rios, DBH Deputy Director of Program Support Services.

In addition, DBH works closely with other San Bernardino County departments such as Preschool Services, Veterans Affairs, and Aging and Adult Services to educate others about mental illness.

DBH strives to create a County where all persons have the opportunity to enjoy optimum wellness. In doing so, the DBH is supporting the community in achieving the Countywide Vision by ensuring all residents have the resources they need to provide the necessities of life to their families. Additional information about the Department of Behavioral Health can be found at
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