Author and mental health advocate Sonja Wasden visited the Santa Barbara Police Department Tuesday.
She is currently on a tour around the country, thanking police officers.
Mrs. Wasden, author of “An Impossible Life: The Inspiring Journey of a Woman’s Struggle from Within,” supports mental health support for law enforcement and community members.
“We are here at the police department to thank law enforcement officers for all that they do, because they have been a support for my family, and to let them know their mental health matters also. Officers put their lives on the line, their mental health on the line, and I just want officers and all first responders to know we appreciate all that they do for us,” she said in a news release.
During her visits at law enforcement agencies and libraries, she shares her struggles with depression, mania and suicidal ideation.
Officer Craig Burleigh, a member of the Joint Co-Response Team, welcomed Mrs. Wasden on the steps of the police department. He assists community members suffering from mental health issues.
“It was an honor to meet Sonja and for her to share her personal story with us,” he said.
Interim Police Chief Bernard Melekian attended the presentation.
“We thank you for sharing your story with us and greatly appreciate you coming to the Santa Barbara Police Department to personally thank our officers and professional staff for all that they do,” he said. “Statistically for every one line of duty death, there are tragically five to seven officers that take their own lives every year. The issues surrounding wellness and mental health have been a priority of the Santa Barbara Police Department and a personal priority of mine.”
SBPD supports its responders with the At-Ease Program, which provides peer support and counseling.