In an effort to improve mental health services and offerings in the local area, the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and Mental Health Commission are collaborating to host a community event this Saturday that will allow residents a chance to share how the department can better suit their needs.

The day-long stakeholder summit will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, located at 1210 4th Street in Santa Monica. The event is expected to feature a multitude of resource tables and informational presentations, including a breakdown of the Department of Mental Health’s strategic plan by director Jonathan Sherin.

Sherin said in an interview Thursday that he originally sought to start hosting stakeholder summits about two years ago with the intention to invite a more diverse set of opinions into L.A. County’s mental health discussion. He hopes the new strategy will more thoroughly and regularly engage the communities who are serviced in department’s eight service areas.

“Mental health has been put in the closet as a field forever and now — all of a sudden — mental health is part of everything,” Sherin said, so the department is trying to figure out how to best get resources to anyone out there who is suffering from short-term trauma, long-term trauma, addictions or other complications.

“And it’s really important to have these quarterly summits because we need to hear from the public about what is going on, what’s going well, what’s not going well, and, maybe most importantly, what does the community want from the department,” Sherin added. “Because at the end of the day, our communities and the people who we serve are the engineers who guide the direction of the department.”

Stacy Dalgleish, Vice Chair of the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission (District 3), agreed, stating a recent article about elementary school bullying is exactly why the Mental Health Commission holds quarterly town halls around the county.

“We need to know residents’ mental (and) behavioral health needs, especially those that are not currently being provided,” Dalgleish said. “I hope students and parents will take advantage of the opportunity to give public comment. Our children and youth are counting on us.”

Those who opt to attend the town hall can expect Sherin to kick off a discussion about the department’s strategic plan around 9:15 a.m. Then, after a 30-minute lunch break, attendees will be able to share their opinions during the town hall portion from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Later in the afternoon, the topics will get more technical as officials dive into budgetary and administrative matters.

“I don’t know how many people are going to show up but we’re trying to develop communication channels that will bring new voices in,” Sherin said. “I got a lot of people who are really energized and enthused for what’s to come.”

Residents who are unable to attend Saturday’s summit can join by phone by dialing 323-776-6996 and using the conference ID: 757019729.

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