With 40 million Americans reporting a mental health condition, most of us know someone who is dealing with mental health in some capacity—whether their own or that of a family member or friend.

Stats like this beg to ask, what are we doing about the mental health crisis as a country and as the body of Christ?

Education and support are key components according to the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI).

In response to the growing number of those affected by mental health concerns, High Desert Church (HDC) and St. Joseph Health will host the High Desert Mental Health Summit on May 9 at HDC on Hook Boulevard in Victorville. The event will offer a full day of speakers, workshops and networking.

Dubbed ‘Pathways of Hope—Cultivating Resilience,’ the summit’s “aim is to work together on collective actions to address the challenges, enhance existing services and programs, and explore opportunities.”

Keynote speakers at the summit include author and counselor Dr. Mike Marino; California Mental Health Services Authority Joseph Robinson and David Mandani, Pastor of Mental Health at Saddleback Church.

April Dillow a member of HDC from Apple Valley will be on a panel of presenters answering questions from attendees. Dillow’s twenty-nine-year-old brother, John committed suicide five years ago.

“I use writing as an outlet,” Dillow said. “If my blog helps just one person, it’s worth it. Speaking at the summit is another way I can offer help.”

Other presenters on the panel include Pastor Tim Wheeler, April Poynor, Rick Klotz, Dr. John Benson, MD; Curt Emick, Mary Earhart, Pastor Mike Roberts, Rev., Richard Ross, Ahlam Axelrod, Evonne Tirado, Barbara Redding and Marie Ballew.

Workshop and Breakout Sessions include:

  • It’s a Family Affair—Struggle is Contagious
  • The Wounded Healer—Help for the Helpers
  • Substance Abuse: Mental Health & Addiction
  • Support Groups: How to Select, Start, & Sustain
  • Spirituality & Mental Health
  • Suicide: Signs & Support
  • San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health Update: Children & Youth
  • Crisis Response & Service in the High Desert

The panel speakers for the workshops include: Ahlam Axelrod, MFT facilitator of a Post-Partum Support Group; Pastor Tim Wheeler, oversees the High Desert Church Care Ministry’s peer support & recovery groups; Dr. Mike Marino, Ph.D., develops support group curriculums, and Barbara Redding & Marie Ballew promote family support groups through NAMI.

The summit hopes to help families like the “Smiths” (they wished to remain anonymous) from Apple Valley who have been members of HDC since 1992. In 2003 their middle son joined the Army. After serving two tours in Iraq, their son chose to suppress the painful memories through alcohol and prescription drugs. He went through the VA rehab program which helped him overcome alcohol but the prescription drug addiction has continued to this day.

“Our son has a wife and three amazing children, but right now because of his behavior they are separated,” said Mrs. Smith. “It has caused a lot of stress over the years. As a family, we have come to realize his drug addiction has developed into Bi-polar tendencies. Upon seeing this summit advertised in HDC’s bulletin, I knew both my husband and I needed to attend. We are hoping to gain knowledge and understanding to continue to walk through this path of mental illness and addiction. It will also be good to know we are not alone in this journey.”

The High Desert Mental Health Summit begins with registration at noon on May 9 at High Desert Church, 14546 Hook Blvd. in Victorville.

Registration Fees include Full Day: $20, includes workshops, program materials, resource fair, evening keynote and dinner. Partial Day: $10, includes evening keynote, resource fair and dinner.

Register online HERE. For more information, contact St. Mary Community Health Center at 760-946-4241.


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Mary Langer Thompson
Mary Langer Thompson
2 years ago

So glad NAMI has come to the high desert!

2 years ago

Yes, Mary! We need more events like this to offer support for families facing mental illness.

Marilyn Ramirez
2 years ago

It’s good to know there is someplace those with Mental Health Conditions have a place to go to here in the high desert. Great article, Beckie Lindsey.

2 years ago

Marilyn, I agree. I’m glad HDC partnered to put on a much-needed event. Thanks for your comment.