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Mental health expert weighs in about Lompoc shooting

On average the San Luis Obispo hotline gets 600 to 700 calls a month. It’s one of the resources people here on the Central Coast can turn to if they are struggling with mental health.

“One of the things that is tough is that people don’t ask for help themselves with a mental health issue, I think we treat mental health issues different than medical issues,” says Meghan Boaz Alvarez, Clinical Director for Transitions Mental Health Association.

She says there are often stigmas that come with people who need support. She says if someone is feeling depressed or not themselves a good place to turn to is their primary doctor.

“A lot of people have a doctor they have seen for years and knows their history if they say I am not doing well or am depressed,” she says.

On Monday, a Lompoc police officer shot and killed Michael Giles after he was found carrying a knife. During a previous interview his brother says Giles was working through some mental health issues.

“He had a few mental disorders he was working through, we were working through it together, but, we were always there for each other and always going to love each other,” says Martin Giles, his brother.

Boaz Alvarez says it’s important that in situations like this one law enforcement helps keep everyone safe.

“I see a lot of departments working on crisis intervention training where they respond to calls where mental health symptoms might be a factor,” she says.

She says mental health treatment has come a long way. There are a number of resources here on the Central Coast including support groups that people can attend.

“Out-patient clinics, there are short term residential treatment centers, Transitions Mental Health Association has outpatient treatment teams in Santa Maria and Lompoc”

For people struggling with mental health they can contact the San Luis Obispo Hotline at 800-783-0607.

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