Monday, May 21 , 2018, 7:36 pm | Fair 64º


Ever-Expanding Community Wellness Program Gives Mental Wellness Center Bigger Base for Support

Array of activities, classes and groups all aimed at creating and strengthening opportunities for recovery

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is three in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation.]

An essential part of recovery is people feeling a sense of fellowship, and the Community Wellness Program at the Mental Wellness Center offers classes, groups and activities developed toward improving the mental health of clients and their families.

“In late 2013, we launched our Community Wellness Program and expanded our invitation to the whole community to come participate in therapeutic classes and self-help and support groups,” said Annmarie Cameron, Mental Wellness Center’s CEO.

The program has served more than 80 clients since its inception, offering support and information to the community to strengthen skills in recovery.

As clinical director, Stacy McCrory MFT oversees programs and services and develops ongoing services responding to the needs of the community.

“The Community Wellness Program is a program geared toward helping people promote their overall mental wellness,” McCrory said. “We offer classes and support groups in the evenings for people who may be working or going to school during the day, but who could benefit from psychoeducational groups as well as support groups — things like healthy relationships, positive steps in recovery.”

The Community Wellness Program includes two groups offered in English and Spanish, Healthy Relationships and Dual Diagnosis: Positive Steps in Recovery, as well as a dedicated Spanish Support Group.

Basic movements and poses in yoga and Tai Chi classes are also a part of the opportunity to access free services in the wellness program.

Activities and outings are also offered for young adults with afternoon groups, including LGBTQ and Ally support groups in partnership with the Pacific Pride Foundation to provide a positive and safe environment for dealing with issues of identity and sexual orientation.

And with the holidays rapidly approaching Managing Holiday Stress and Anxiety will provide tools and information to improve participants’ well-being during a period of time that can sometimes bring out the worst in families. Drop-ins are welcome from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Dec. 16. For more information, contact McCrory at 805.884.8440 or [email protected].

The Recovery Learning Center at the Fellowship Club provides opportunities for educational and research purposes — and also a chance to relax with a game or two. (Mental Wellness Center photo)
The Recovery Learning Center at the Fellowship Club provides opportunities for educational and research purposes — and also a chance to relax with a game or two. (Mental Wellness Center photo)

Developing and Maintaining Healthy Relationships is also offered as a support group for everyone, combining collaboration and education to explore strengths in managing relationships and improve interpersonal skills and communication.

“We also have family services and offer support groups for caregivers and family members who have a loved one living with mental illness or symptoms of a mental illness,” McCrory explained. “And we have a family advocate who’s available to help people who need extra support.”

In this facilitated support group, family members are offered the opportunity for a caring and safe environment to share experiences and resources.

“The Fellowship Club is an essential community resource providing a safe place for people living with mental illness,” McCrory said. “They come here and they feel part of a community that they belong to, where they are recovery-oriented working on their mental health on a regular basis.”

The fully peer staffed Recovery Learning Center at the Fellowship Club provides additional opportunities for educational and research purposes.

The Community Wellness Program has served more than 80 clients since its inception. (Mental Wellness Center photo)
The Community Wellness Program has served more than 80 clients since its inception. (Mental Wellness Center photo)

“We offer groups and services, including a Resource Learning Center, which is a computer lab that helps them develop skills that they might not otherwise be able to get,” McCrory said.

The computer lab includes access to for those who want to take online courses in business, computer programs and more.

“When they come here they are comfortable to be who they are in a safe place with their peers,” she said. “We also have therapeutic groups for them and it’s just a place where they can feel like they belong to, not only their small community but to the community at large.”

As of September, the Mental Wellness Center has partnered with Sansum Clinic, CenCal Health and the Partners in Care Foundation to establish the Healthier Living — a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program as part of the Community Wellness Program. The program provides learning support and information to lessen the impact of chronic conditions and manage health.

According to Cameron, it’s these group activities that are key to early intervention and a building of hope that the Mental Wellness Center strives to achieve with all of the therapeutic groups and services it provides.

“We need to create a community expectation of wellness, not lifelong illness, and then warmly surrounding people in need with supports and services — rather than leaving them alone in isolation,” she said.

Click here for more information about the Mental Wellness Center, or call 805.884.8440. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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