It was December 2012 when a mentally-ill 20-year-old killed 26 children and teachers, his mother and himself in Newtown, Connecticut.
Saturday, the city of Sacramento will host the first in a series of nationwide events dealing with mental illness.
Chet Hewitt with the Sierra Health Foundation says participants will include young people, non-profits, caregivers, and government agencies.
“We’re going to use real-time polling so that people can help craft a plan-of-action going forward," he says. "This is not just a meeting where people are going to come together and hear from talking heads for the need for health services, treatment gaps and other things that are important, but insufficient to making a difference.”
Hewitt says organizers hope to increase awareness of symptoms and treatment of mental illness especially in young people and minority populations. Those are the people who are most often reluctant to seek help.
Pamela Hyde is with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She says the event is designed to increase knowledge community-wide.
“You know, we do a lot of work to help ourselves, each other understand what to do in a physical health crisis like a stroke or a heart attack," she says. "We don’t do that nearly as much deal with mental health. So, we don’t teach our young people, our teachers, our parents or first responders how to deal with mental health issues- how to recognize them and what to do about them.”
Hyde says Saturday’s event at the convention center will bring together 400 people from local, state, and federal agencies that specialize in mental health care.
It is the first in a series of such events in cities around the country hosted by each city’s mayor.
California Endowment, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Sierra Health Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation are sponsoring the event.