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The Placer County Board of Supervisors honored mental health advocate Sharon Behrens Tuesday, thanking her for more than 40 years of dedicated service to those suffering from mental health issues, substance abuse, and working through recovery.

Ms. Behrens has served on the Placer County Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Board (MHADB) since 2009 and was the Chairperson of the Board from November 2010 through June 2013.

Supervisor Jim Holmes, who also serves on the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Board, recommended Ms. Behrens for the commendation, citing her dedication to the Board and helping others. “Her leadership on this Board has raised it to a different level,” Supervisor Holmes said.

Ms. Behrens applied for a seat on the Board after reading an editorial Supervisor Holmes had written regarding the need for volunteers to participate on the MHADB. “When she applied we hit the jackpot,” Supervisor Holmes said.ย 

“This is very overwhelming,” Behrens said at the commendation ceremony, which was attended by several of her fellow board members as well as her husband Bob. “Thank you for this honor.”

Throughout the years Ms. Behrens has been recognized for her contribution in the fields of mental health and substance abuse recovery. She has received both the Starfish Award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrations outstanding devotion to children and their education, and the Women Helping Women award, for using her resources and talents to help other women achieve their goals.

Behrens praised the staff of the Placer County Adult System of Care and the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Board members with the Board’s innovative accomplishments. “I cannot tell you how many ideas I’ve come up with and the staff has ended up with all the work,” she said. “We also have a very hardworking Board. Everyone who is here works very hard.”

Behrens earned her B.A. degree from the University of California at Riverside, and began her career as a social worker for San Bernardino County and subsequently for San Mateo County and Kings County.ย  She went on to provide training, education, and public outreach to government agencies and educational institutions on issues regarding special education in schools, sexual abuse, cultural diversity, learning disabilities, children of trauma, and parenting issues for adoptive and foster parents. Additionally, Sharon and her husband provided foster care for infants and children with special needs, adopting five children of their own. One of their children, who suffered severe physical and emotional trauma as an infant and made a remarkable recovery, was the subject of a CBS Evening News story in 2009.

During her five years of service to Placer County as a member of the Mental Health, Alcohol Drug Board, Ms. Behrens served as the Chair of the Quality Improvement subcommittee and was instrumental in implementing events such as Buzz Kill, which demonstrates to young drivers firsthand the impacts and consequences of a marijuana DUI arrest; Early Trauma Convening, a program that helps families empower their children to work through challenges; and Recovery Happens, a program that helps individuals struggling with recovery focus on health and wellness to reach their full potential.

According to Maureen Bauman, L.C.S.W., M.P.A, Placer County Adult System of Care Client Services Director, Sharon provided excellent leadership to the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Board as Chairperson.ย  Through the development of a collaborative program review process Ms. Behrens helped the MHADB to identify opportunities to improve programs, Bauman said.ย ย 

“Sharon is a good listener and always makes sure she understands all sides of a story when she hears complaints,” Bauman said. “She is easy to work with and always has a great deal to contribute. It was a delight to have her as the Chairperson and I look forward to continuing to work with her as she remains on the Board.”

The Placer County Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Board is currently accepting applications for members. Individuals who are interested in helping to address issues surrounding mental health, and alcohol and drug abuse are encouraged to apply. The Board has openings for members from the community-at-large as well as individuals who receive mental health, alcohol and drug services or whose family members do.

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