Forum to focus on recognizing, helping those with serious mental illness

The Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic is hosting a community conversation on mental health and public safety at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Bellingham High School Auditorium.

The free event, titled “After Newtown: A Community Conversation on Mental Health and Public Safety,” will feature discussion on how to recognize signs of  serious mental illness, particularly in young people, and how to find local resources to help troubled individuals, give support to their families and protect public safety.

“This is not a conversation about gun control,” said David Kleiber, president of the clinic’s board of directors, in a press release. “It’s about how we as a community respond to the needs of troubled individuals and their families. We want parents, educators, mental health experts, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens to come together to begin learning how to recognize those who are struggling with serious mental health issues and increase awareness of the many local resources that exist to help them. We welcome everyone to join the discussion.”

Participants in the discussion will include Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo; Sterling Chick, children’s mental health manager for catholic community services; Dave Reynolds, juvenile probation and detention administrator for Whatcom County Superior Court; and David Sager, crisis services director at the Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic.

The clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides mental health services to people in Bellingham and Whatcom County. More information is online at www.whatcomcounseling.org.

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