Serving the community since 1922

Workshop to address mental health

Community Health Initiative of Dignity Health and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church will present a free mental health workshop on Sunday, May 22. The goal will be to raise awareness and educate the public to combat stigma.

Almost 100 people have attended, the two prior workshops in Wasco in the last year.

"Many of those who have participated expressed their gratitude because they learned information about mental health issues, their symptoms, and why they or a family member may be suffering from them," said organizer Mayor Gilberto Reyna.

The workshop will be led in Spanish to serve Wasco's high Latino population better.

"There is such a lack of education and information in the Hispanic community that it is important we reach this demographic in their native language," said workshop facilitator Maria de Los Angeles Bucio.

Bucio has worked in mental health for over 15 years and is certified by the National Alliance on Mental Health to lead support groups. She is a community health worker and an emotional therapist that embarked on this career after her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"I know what it feels like to be lost and scared, not knowing how to access resources, get help, or even know where to begin."

The theme of this workshop will be exploring the impact of emotions on your mental health.

The event will be interactive, and there will be breathing exercises and other tools to teach coping skills and how to better deal with your emotions in a positive way.

It will share how negative and repressed emotions can be detrimental to your physical and mental well-being. Participants will discover how many emotions exist, how to express those emotions and how to connect those emotions to their overall health.

"Most people don't know how to deal with or constructively express their emotions," said Bucio.

An important message will be how critical it is to take care of your mental health and treat it just like any other disease, such as diabetes.

"It is a condition that can be managed given the right information, treatment and support."

There is much stigma when it comes to mental health.

"The workshop is one more in a series that aims to provide our residents suffering from this common ailment a forum to talk about a subject often viewed with much stigma and give them the aid they need," said Mayor Reyna.

"To combat stigma, we need education so people can feel more comfortable speaking about mental health and more willing to ask for assistance," said Bucio.

"We aim to shed light on the issue and raise awareness to save lives and enable those who live with a condition to have a happy and productive life despite this."

Attendees will learn about their available resources, even if they don't have health insurance.

"We will connect them with organizations that can assist them with that and who to go to for guidance."

Soon there will be workshops in English.

"In the near future, I will also collaborate with other organizations to provide the mental health workshops in English," said Mayor Reyna. "It is my intention for the Wasco community to become healthier."

The public is invited to attend the workshop from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the St. John Parish Hall, 1300 9th Place. For more information, call 661-241-0064.


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