Chamber helps military families, homebound seniors
La Mesa Chamber of Commerce is currently in the middle of two holiday charity drives — one for military families and another for homebound seniors.
The “Stuff the Jeep” project collects books, toys, gift certificates and more for La Mesa residents in military housing. So far the effort has collected 365 books and 22 toys that will be given to military families. The final push for more toys will be held on Dec. 4 at a special toy drive party at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Grossmont Center between 5:30 and 7 p.m. All attendees must bring one unwrapped toy. Cost is free for Chamber members and $10 for non-members and guests; $20 at the door.
The other Chamber holiday drive is for homebound seniors. Twenty-four seniors will receive gift baskets with donated items such as canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, packets of crackers, packets of pasta or macaroni & cheese, bars of soap, tubes of tooth paste, packs of tissues, bottles of hand soaps, bottles of hand sanitizer, pens and pads of paper. Gift cards from local stores like Walmart, Target or grocery stores are also encouraged.
The deadline to donate items for the gift baskets in Nov. 29. Items must be delivered to the Chamber office at 8080 La Mesa Blvd. between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mary England is also available 7 days a week to meet donors and pick up those items from you. Contact Mary England on her cell 619-251-7730.
For more information on either holiday program, visit lamewsachamber.com.
Community college district picks new chancellor
Lynn Neault, longtime Vice Chancellor of Student Services at the San Diego Community College District, is the governing board’s pick as the next chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
Neault replaces Cindy L. Miles, who is retiring at the end of the year after a record term of almost 11 years at the district’s helm. Governing Board President Linda Cartwright announced Neault’s selection at the board meeting on Tuesday. Neault starts her new job in January.
“Dr. Neault brings decades of knowledge and experience in local community college administration and is well-versed in the statewide issues of student outcomes and enrollment and their impact on state funding,” Cartwright said. “She also brings a strong commitment to participatory governance and decision-making that comes after many years of working and consulting with varying constituency groups from a multi-college district.”
Neault has served 25 years at her current post with the San Diego Community College District, one of the largest in California. She began working there in 1983 as an administrative analyst in Institutional Research, and later served as director, associate director and coordinator of Student Services. From 2013-2014, she served as interim president of San Diego City College.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in public administration, and a doctorate in education, all from San Diego State University.
“I deeply understand California community colleges,” Neault said. “I appreciate the complexities and opportunities that arise from a multi-college district. I understand the laws and regulations that guide our work and I know the importance of establishing strong relationships in the community, with community leaders, legislators and the Board of Trustees.”
Raised in an immigrant family, where she was the first to attend college, Neault credits her own lived experiences to her commitment to the mission of community colleges.
“I am committed to the mission of community colleges,” she said. “We give students hope for a better life. We see the potential in them, even when they don’t see it for themselves and we lift their spirits.”
Neault said she plans to spend much of her first year meeting people, developing relationships, and learning about the needs and directions of a multitude of programs and departments in the district.
Other objectives Neault identified include raising the public profile of the district, completing the Proposition V-funded construction projects, and continuing the innovative work of the East County Education Alliance, a partnership forged between the college district, the Grossmont Union High School District and the Mountain Empire Unified School District to ensure a seamless educational path for the students of East County.
New tool to help those with chronic mental illness
The Board of Supervisors today added a new tool in the county’s expanding efforts to help those with chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues.
The county will launch a pilot program that will allow it to name a conservator to oversee treatment and services for those unable to care for themselves due to these crippling disorders.
“Conservatorship can be a critical tool to keep some of our most vulnerable residents from falling through the cracks,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman. “Mental illness and substance abuse are huge concerns across our region and today’s action is our latest step to address them.”
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher recently joined Supervisor Jacob in calling for the program after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to expand options for conservatorship.
“We will utilize every available tool to address the issues of behavioral health and homelessness, said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “With the Board’s approval today, our County can move to fully implement the conservatorship law to help those with the most severe behavioral health challenges. Ultimately, we want to build a regional, coordinated, integrated behavioral health system that prevents people from needing a conservator. Our success as a region should be judged on keeping people out of that situation, but in the interim we will utilize every option that can provide help to those most in need.”
Prevention and voluntary behavioral health interventions are always the preferred option, but some individuals could benefit from a court-ordered conservatorship, which includes treatment, wrap-around services, case management and housing.
Eligible individuals must be diagnosed seriously mentally ill with a co-occurring substance use disorder and have eight or more 72-hour involuntary hold in the proceeding 12-month period. Additionally, the court must decide, at the recommendation from the behavioral health director, that the individual would not qualify for a related outpatient treatment program, or the program would be insufficient.
Existing county programs to help the mentally ill and addicted include IHOT, or In-Home Outreach Teams, which offer outreach and assessment for those in crisis.
Earlier this year, the board moved to create 24/7 crisis stabilization centers and bolster clinical resources and other tools for those dealing with substance abuse and mental illness.
SANDAG links meth, mental illness
Adult arrestees who reported ever trying meth were significantly more likely to have received a mental health diagnosis, according to a new report released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division.
Findings revealed that 36% of adult arrestees who reported having tried meth also had suicidal thoughts, compared with 20% who had never tried meth.
The new SANDAG report, “Methamphetamine Use and Mental Health Issues Among the Arrestee Population,” found that nearly equal percentages of arrestees reported receiving a mental health diagnoses first or trying meth first – one did not precede the other in a predictable way.
The study also found significant differences between arrestees who reported ever trying meth and having a mental health diagnosis or staying overnight in a mental health facility.
Three-quarters (75%) of this group tested positive for meth at the time of their current arrest, compared with 42% of all arrestees.
Females represented a greater proportion of this group (42%) than they did of the other arrestee group (32%).
This group was more likely to be homeless at the time of their arrest (58% versus 29% of other arrestees) and to report ever being homeless (86% versus 55%)
This group was more likely to have prior arrests (92% versus 72%) and prior prison sentences (34% versus 24%).
While arrestees were equally likely to report having children, individuals in this group were less likely to report living with children (14% versus 27%).
“We conducted a deeper dive on our data because we know from national surveys that substance use is more common among individuals with a mental health issue than those without one,” said SANDAG Criminal Justice Research and Program Management Director Dr. Cynthia Burke. “As our community struggles to address the needs of individuals with these types of dual diagnosis issues, many of whom are also homeless, it is important that we work collaboratively to get people the help they need but may be unable to get for themselves due to their substance use or mental health issues.”
This report is one in a series that highlights findings from data collected as part of the San Diego County Substance Abuse Monitoring program. Since 2004, when federal funding for the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program was suspended, San Diego has been the only county to continue this project uninterrupted. With funding from the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse, these data have been reported annually to provide useful information to policy makers, as well as law enforcement, prevention, and treatment professionals regarding drug use trends and involvement in other risky or illegal behavior over time.
Read the two-page summary at bit.ly/335RofQ.