Access Sacramento taped a television special  during last weekend’s “Creating Community Solutions: Part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health” conference at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event was spearheaded by an opening speech from Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson and featured appearances by US Congress member Doris Matsui, State Senator pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, State Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, and many more.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama launched a national conversation on mental health in order to reduce the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness, to encourage people to seek help if they are struggling with mental health problems, and to encourage individuals whose friends or family are struggling to connect them to help.

Conference speakers noted that even though mental health problems affect nearly every family, communities too often struggle to have an open and honest conversation about these issues. They said misperceptions, fears of social consequences, discomfort associated with talking about these issues with others, and discrimination all tend to keep people silent. Experts agree when people get the help they need,  most can and do recover and lead happy, productive, and full lives.

This national dialogue which began in Sacramento Saturday was designed to give Americans a chance to learn more, from research and from each other, about mental health issues. Organizers said this is the first of 10 planned events across the nation where community conversations will assess how mental health problems affect their communities and will discuss topics related to the mental health of young people. In so doing, they also will decide how they might take action to improve mental health in their families, schools, and communities.

This could include a range of possible actions to establish or improve prevention of mental illnesses, promotion of mental health, public education and awareness, early identification, treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports available in their communities.

More than 500 participants took part in the Sacramento event, providing input on how we as a nation should move this conversation forward. Access Sacramento captured footage of the various presenters throughout conference, and held exclusive interviews with many of the facilitators, stakeholders, residents, and elected officials who were in attendance.

Once complete, the edited footage will become a televised special to be aired on Access Sacramento and streamed on the internet around the world.