Our Opinion: Keep up the fight

March 07, 2001

Often those who have mental health problems also have substance abuse problems, and getting help for just one problem is not enough.

County Behavioral Health Services now has an outpatient treatment clinic in El Centro, and we believe the clinic will go a long way toward helping those in need.

Anxiety and depression are among the problems regularly faced by Behavioral Health Services. But while someone with severe clinical depression may seek mental help, there are those suffering from depression who turn to less beneficial assistance — drugs and alcohol — to numb their pain.

Neither treating the substance abuse problem without addressing its cause nor treating the depression without breaking the cycle of substance abuse would work. We expect the clinic to be a valuable tool in not only helping people break free of drugs and alcohol, but in recognizing when those people need additional help and referring them to Behavioral Health Services.


A valuable part of the clinic's work will be group therapy. Program supervisor Martha Singh said the groups of four to 10 people with similar addictions help people to realize they are not alone. Interaction with peers and guidance from a counselor can be a powerful combination.

There is a perception that mental health problems are dealt with by prescribing drugs, treating the symptoms rather than the cause. The clinic takes another approach, and we believe people will respond well to the counseling and outpatient treatment.

We would like to give credit to the staff and administration of Behavioral Health Services, in particular the head of the department, Michael Horn, for creating the outpatient treatment clinic. We know from past interviews with Horn that he has plans to widen the services offered by his department and this clinic is an important step toward that end.

Horn has demonstrated he is willing to take all necessary steps to treat depression in both adults and youth. He also has demonstrated a desire to knock out drug abuse in the Imperial Valley. We fear there is no way to help everyone suffering through bouts of drug dependence or depression, but that shouldn't stop the effort.

We urge people to take advantage of the outpatient clinic. We urge people in the Imperial Valley with family or friends who are dependent upon drugs to push them to find help. Services are available. It is up to us to utilize those services.

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