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  • Leadership Santa Maria Valley: Mental Health, Ethics Discussed During Health & Human Services Topic Day

    The Leadership of Santa Maria Valley Class of 2021 hosted its Health and Human Services topic day on September 10, 2021, by gathering many leaders and specialists of the area to discuss mental health, treatments, and housing for those in need in our community.

    They first met with Dr. Ketelaar, a current physician champion and advocate for acute behavioral health wellness services at Marian Regional Hospital. Dr. Ketelaar shared that 1 in 8 Emergency Department visits are related to behavioral health or substance abuse, which has created a need to develop support services for this population in our community. Through his discussion, Dr. Ketelaar emphasized the need for a new facility to support patients experiencing behavioral health or substance abuse, the Behavioral Health Unit (Crisis Stabilization Unit).

    The class also had the opportunity to have a fascinating discussion with President and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Glenn D. Morris, who led an intriguing discussion on ethics. Some of the highlights from the discussion with Glenn were that as future leaders, it is important to learn to set boundaries between personal and professional values and ethics. They learned about strategies to respect differing views of individuals they interact with and to create a place of acceptance with others that live within our same community, a place we call home.

    Then, the class met with Mayra Prieto, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Debbi Ashby, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) from the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavior Wellness. Mayra and Debbi are a part of the CalWORKs Resource Support Team and they shared with the class their department’s efforts to become a ‘one-stop-shop’ of resources to the residents who suffer from mental illness.

    The class visited Ariela Gottschalk, Program Manager of Growing Grounds Farm. During their meeting, the class learned about the history of Growing Grounds Farm and their mission to help those who suffer from mental illnesses by providing them with a therapeutic horticultural and employment opportunity at the five acre farm.

    The class took a tour of Los Adobes de Maria III, a People’s Self-Help Housing (PSHH) development location within the City of Santa Maria. They were led by Ken Trigueiro, CEO and President of PSSH, and Gillian Cole-Andrews, Director of Communication and Resource Development of PSHH. The class learned about the history of the non-profit housing organization and their mission to build affordable housing for low-income families, farm workers, seniors, and veterans while providing them with a wide range of services to encourage a healthy life and career success.

    The class ended the day with Erica Weber, the Sales and Marketing Executive at VTC Enterprises. Erica talked about the employment opportunities and skills training they offer to those within the community who suffer from disabilities and how they can strive in the work place by providing them with the right tools, patience, and services so each individual can live up to their full potential and live a meaningful life.