For all the attention that violence-related mental illness has gotten in the past two weeks, efforts to raise money to address those issues are going begging here in San Diego.
Experts in the field say the holiday season can be a "mental health cliff" for all too many people.
On Friday, local mental health activists issued a plea for financial support, to help assist those who have urgent needs for counseling, treatment and stability.
"One in four Americans suffer from some form of mental illness,” said Daphyne Watson, executive director of Mental Health America of San Diego County. “And even here in San Diego, we have enough individuals to fill Qualcomm Stadium ten times over. That means 750-thousand people are affected with mental illness.
However, the mental health community here is having trouble selling tickets to its annual New Year's Eve celebration at the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel & Marina.
They're hoping, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school massacre, that renewed concerns over mental illness will help drive sales and attendance.
The proceeds benefit a coalition of more than four dozen nonprofit organizations that provide intervention and treatment services under contracts with the county's Health & Human Services Agency, which has a $300 million annual budget for “behavioral health” spending.
Shannon Jaccard, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told reporters that many disturbed individuals decide not to seek help because of the social stigma attached to mental illness.
“Mental illness is not shameful,” she said. “It is not something that says you are a bad person. So that’s the one thing I fear is getting lost in the shuffle of the communication that’s going on.”
Meantime, law enforcement officials say their agencies handle a disproportionate level of "first responses".
"I think what's going on is, we haven't addressed mental health issues well,” said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, a member of a law enforcement task force that's offering input to Vice President Biden's commission on mass shootings.
“I think it's a very tragic statement to make in any county or any state or any city -- to say that the largest providers of mental health services are the jails across this great country."
As for fundraising on behalf of the annual, black-tie-optional “Sand & Sea New Year’s Eve Ball” organizers are pricing guaranteed-seating tickets at $50 per person for “dance party” admission to late-night appetizers plus a midnight champagne toast and party favors.
VIP tickets run $175 per person for a four-course meal, wine with dinner, dancing, welcoming and midnight champagne receptions; VIP tables of ten are available for $1,500.
Ticket purchases can be made via www.namisandiego.org, or by calling (619) 543-0412 or (619) 584-5574.