New Web Site Offers Help on Mental Health Issues

May 24 2006
Bakersfield Californian

A free online source of help and information on mental illness, substance abuse and developmental disabilities is now available to Kern County residents, families and mental health and social service organizations.

On Wednesday, the Kern County Mental Health Department launched the Kern County Network of Care Web site, an information and service directory for those seeking help for themselves or someone else.

"Our goal with (the site) was to put you within three clicks of a resource," said Kathy Sterbenc, the Web site's publisher with Trilogy Integrated Resources, LLC. of San Rafael, which created and maintains the site.

Jamy Garcia, a recovery specialist with the Quality Improvement Division of the local mental health department, who is herself in recovery from bipolar disorder and drug addiction, said the Web site is a great idea.

"Families, everyone needs information," Garcia said. "Consumers spend a long time online looking for information on their mental health condition. Education is part of recovery. Not just knowing who I am but what I'm dealing with and being in control of my own treatment."

The site features six language links for consumers needing help in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Mon-Khmer, spoken in Cambodia, Sterbenc said, adding that a Korean link may also be available shortly.

The Web site is sponsored by the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) in partnership with the California Department of Mental Health.

Some of the site's features include:

  • local community announcements on mental health and substance abuse resources
  • a nationwide news link with articles of interest to visitors
  • an emergency services link for people in crisis
  • a feedback button for suggestions on improving the site
  • visual aids that help explain a mental health condition. For example, there is a graphic of an anorexic woman looking at her apparently overweight reflection in a mirror.