Mental Health Awareness in May

By Joanne A Calitri   |   May 28, 2024

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness month. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers authoritative information about mental disorders, a range of related topics, the latest mental health research, and resources online. 

The history of May for mental health dates to 1949, when the United States Congress designated May as Mental Health Awareness month due to the increased number of veterans suffering from mental illnesses after returning from World War II. According to, “The U.S. Federal government recognizes the importance of educating and treating those citizens who are living with mental health issues. There is also the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), along with Veterans Affairs.”

The California Dept of Public Health’s Instagram posts for mental health include its “5 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health” – get regular exercise, make sleep a priority, set goals and priorities, practice gratitude, and stay connected.

Locally, the Montecito schools support students and their families via school counselors and programs.

Santa Barbara Cottage Health (SBCH) annually affirms that it stands with other community organizations to increase public awareness about the significance of mental health. They invite the community to learn about, and use if needed, the many programs and services it provides to support, educate, and heal.

SBCH Administrative Director of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine Darcy Keep, explains, “For more than three decades, our team has been committed to destigmatizing mental health challenges and cultivating a healing environment for individuals who seek support. We recognize the apprehension that often accompanies seeking help. However, we want the community to feel empowered and know we are here to support them in their journey. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that one out of every five adults in the United States experiences some form of mental illness every year. However, only half of these individuals receive proper treatment.”

The Cottage Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine program provides a comprehensive range of services to meet patients’ needs and circumstances, including acute inpatient psychiatry and detoxification, residential alcohol, drug, and co-occurring disorders, rehabilitation and several levels of outpatient treatment services in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Services programs are:

COPE Intensive Outpatient Programs: Offered in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, the Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Program is a comprehensive program that provides skills-based group psychotherapy, family group psychotherapy, individual case management, and a daily structure that is three hours per day, four days per week. This treatment approach includes psychotherapy, symptom management, education, medication compliance monitoring and enhancement of the patient’s ability to engage in activities related to daily living. COPE also offers intensive outpatient substance use disorder treatment.

Cottage Residential Center: provides comprehensive, medically supervised care for the treatment of substance use disorders. The collaborative treatment approach offers a team of highly experienced professionals, including registered nurses (RNs) and licensed therapists (LMFTs), with referrals to a team of physicians specializing in addiction medicine. The Center is Accredited by the California Department of Health Care Services and the Joint Commission.

Emergency Psychiatric Services: based at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, provides 24/7 comprehensive emergency mental health, psychiatric and chemical dependency evaluations, as well as emergency consultations and crisis intervention. Access to these vital services is facilitated through the Emergency Departments of both Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

Psychiatry and Inpatient Medical Detoxification:The Cottage Psychiatry and Inpatient Medical Detoxification program at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital provides voluntary, short-term inpatient treatment for adults 18 years of age and older, catering to the entire spectrum of psychiatric illnesses with acute symptoms. Additionally, the program aids patients in completing medical detoxification and withdrawal from substances such as alcohol, sedatives and opiates. Services include diagnostic evaluations, medical examinations, specialized tracks for dual diagnosis cases, case management, pharmacological treatment, detoxification supervision, therapy sessions, spiritual care, occupational therapy, pain management, yoga, movement therapy, music and art therapy, nutrition education, and access to medical-surgical services.

There are many SB County resources targeted for specific needs, like the Behavioral Wellness group, Family Services Agency, American Red Cross/Disaster Mental Health, Hospice of SB, Mental Wellness Center, SB County Psychological Association, Mindful Heart Programs, SB Police Foundation AT EASE Program, SB County Sheriff’s Office, Kind Mind, and Sanctuary Centers. See 411.  



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