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Jan 16, 2013 8:46 AM by Ryan Haarer

Pima County raises awareness of mental health issues

TUCSON- Pima County is vowing to continue the fight against mental illness. A new website recently launched by the county is dedicated to directing patients to the best mental health resources.

The site stems from a stigma people have about mental health conditions. Many people refuse to admit to having a problem and avoid care. The site is meant to answer frequently asked questions, link to services and provides phone numbers for crisis management.

Sonia Salcido once battled behavioral health problems. She was told she would never have a job, education or children.

"I grew up in an environment that was filled with gang violence, drug addiction and by the time I was in my early 20's I had my first mental breakdown. I now have a college degree, I have a family of seven and living happily," said Salcido.

Sonia sought help and got it. Now helping others with mental illness she realizes just how many people need help. About a quarter of the U.S. population suffers from a mental disorder and the county is tackling the problem head on.

"I think we are way out in front. i think that there is still a lot left to do but i think the board of supervisors has been very supportive of initiatives involving behavioral health. i think this community has been overwhelmingly supportive," said Danna Whiting, Behavioral Health Administrator for Pima County.

Voters approved two bond packages totaling 54 million dollars for the Behavioral Health Pavilion and the Crisis Response Center. Before the Crisis Response Center, behavioral health patients were crowding hospital waiting rooms often accompanied by police pulled off the street and forced to wait with the patient.

"It's a huge benefit for law enforcement because they have a safe place to bring people to and we know that what used to take hours for adults they are dropping off. It's less than ten minutes," said Whiting.

This spring the county plans on hosting public forums regarding different facets of mental health such as crisis services, elderly and child services. The hope is that conversation will generate ideas on how to go forward in addressing an issue that is consuming the country.

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