Hope for the Holidays

“Together we can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time.”

– Ron Hall

The holidays for our families can be especially difficult. Our families come from all different backgrounds and face complicated hardships. The Adopt-A-Family program helps change that. Gifted household and personal items empower our families to excel in their daily lives. Toys provide opportunities for families to bond and children to grow in their own strengths. Each gift brings hope of a brighter future.

This holiday season, 86 community members and local businesses changed the world for 92 of our client families (that’s 384 children and caregivers!) through our Adopt-A-Family program. They’ve given our families hope and shown them that there is a community of people who care about them. We’re so grateful!

Our CEO, Patricia Costales, LCSW, aptly describes our gratitude for this outpouring of support:

“We’re grateful for the exceptional response to our Adopt-A-Family program this year. Knowing that we have so many neighbors and local businesses who support our children and families is reassurance that compassion still thrives in our community.”

All of our supporters have a moving story of why they participated in the Adopt-A-Family program. Each one has inspired us and filled us with such joy.

Before we head out for the holidays, we want to say a special thank you to our donors and share a few of their inspiring stories. We hope it brightens your holidays as much as it has ours!

SHI International Corp.

David Doeum reached out to us earlier this month to participate in Adopt-A-Family for the first time. His team at SHI International Corp. had the opportunity to either plan a staff retreat or give back to their community. They unanimously decided to give back to their community and adopt a family from The Guidance Center. David shares what the experience of adopting a family was like for him:

“We are a close knit team and when we suggested to collectively participate, for me personally it meant a lot.  I know first-hand what it’s like to grow up with very little, raised on welfare, and my parents not really around since they worked long hours in the garment industry. When I was a teen, it was hard to look into the future, but I want to reassure [the children of our adopted family] that things will get better and people do genuinely care. Just keep learning, growing, and pursuing the best version of yourself…the opportunities are out there to lift yourself and family out of a tough situation. I also work with very driven, hard-working women that are great role models for them. I noticed a lot of items [on the children’s wish lists] meant to express themselves and I encourage them to keep doing so!  Keep writing, singing, drawing, and stick together!”

Susan and Brian Adam

For many of our supporters, adopting a Guidance Center family for the holidays has become a part of their family traditions.

Susan and Brian Adam have supported various Guidance Center programs for the past 10 years. Adopt-A-Family is one of those and a part of their holiday traditions as a family.

“It’s an annual holiday tradition that feels more meaningful than shopping for those who have so much already. This year another family also contributed to make it a shared effort.” – Susan Adam

The same goes for the Rosas Family, who have also supported our Adopt-A-Family program from the very beginning.

“It is an annual tradition to Adopt-A-Family.  We are teaching our children the concept of gratitude and giving. We enjoy shopping for the family each year and selecting the perfect gifts!” –Sharon Rosas

Groundwork Fitness

Giovanna Ferraro, owner of Groundwork Fitness in downtown Long Beach, advocates for people experiencing homelessness throughout the year, among other philanthropic efforts. She saw our Adopt-A-Family program as a way to participate in the giving season with her Groundwork Fitness members.

“I am an advocate period, every day. However, I make it a point every holiday season to remind myself of what this time of ‘giving’ means to me. This year I saw The Guidance Center pop up as they facilitate an Adopt-A-Family program,” said Ferraro. “I’m confident in my fitness community here at Groundwork Fitness, we are a strong bunch who have compassion for those in need. I discussed this program with my Groundwork Fitness family and naturally everyone was excited to help. We hope it helps a family feel like they have community love here in Long Beach.”

More messages from our donors about their experience:

Christiane Carter with the gifts for her adopted family

“I decided to adopt a family this year because Christmas is a magical season of love and being able to put a smile on the faces of others in need filled me with great love and joy.  Merry Christmas to all!!!” – Christiane  Carter

“It just felt right. I may not have a lot to give, but if I can help make someone’s holiday more special then I wanted to do that. Christmas is my favorite time of year, it means a lot to me, so I decided to adopt a family this year and I hope to continue in the future.” – Haley Stickler

“Our company has been adopting a family for the last 5 years and we continue to do so because the act of giving is a much better feeling than receiving.  These families are in more need than most of us and it only makes sense to help others when they are in need.” – Anh Do of Robert Half Torrance

“I chose to participate in the adopt a family because I thought it would be nice to bring cheer to a family in need. I wanted to be able to help a family give their children something special on Christmas. My kids are grown and they felt there was not a lot they wanted and they did not need anything. My favorite part was receiving their wish list and trying to find as much as I could from the list.” – Monique Griffie

“I’ve watched this program grow over the years and am so blessed to be able to contribute this year in Tim Sailor and Kevin Howard’s honor. My family and I really wanted to do something special for our adopted family. Shopping and wrapping the gifts for the family was awesome. We absolutely love being part of this! The Guidance Center really gives these families something so special!” – Stephanie Laverty


To all our 2018 Adopt-A-Family donors, we just can’t say thank you enough!

Annual Client Holiday Party

The first week of December at The Guidance Center is a magical time. Staff take on the role of Santa’s elves and transform our Long Beach headquarters into a winter wonderland for our Annual Client Holiday Party.

A fresh tree was delivered and delightfully trimmed with glittery ornaments of blue, white and silver. The walls were donned with massive powder blue snowflakes and cheerful banners that proclaimed “Happy Holidays!” No wintry detail was left out of the transformation.

Then, the day of the party arrived. Festive craft stations were prepared for cookie decorating, ornament making, and frame embellishing. Excitement – and festive music provided by the DJ – filled the air as staff took their places next to craft stations, and children and families from all our Clinics were invited in to the winter wonderland.

Santa even made a surprise visit, and sat for lots of sweet family photos. Fortunately, the rain didn’t damper the festivities, and merriment was enjoyed by all.

A big thank you to our staff, volunteers and special friends for spreading cheer to our clients this holiday season!

Check out all the fun in photos by visiting our Facebook page!



Adopt-a-Family Donor Spotlight: Heather Stangle-Smith and Nate Smith

This article was originally published in Grunion Gazette on Nov. 28, 2018.

When Heather Stangle-Smith and Nate Smith moved to Long Beach three years ago, they were looking to build community. They had heard great things about the city from friends who had grown up here, and decided it would be the perfect place to make a home in between their two jobs. Heather, who is an attorney at UnitedHealth Group, worked at the time in Irvine, while Nate, a paleontologist, works at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County as Associate Curator in the Dinosaur Institute.

Looking to connect with organizations and give back to their new community, Heather scrolled through Facebook and happened upon The Guidance Center. She clicked the “Like” button, and began to follow along with our organization’s updates.

Not long after she began following us, she saw a Facebook post about our Adopt-a-Family program and immediately signed up to provide hope and joy to one of our families that holiday season. With both their extended families living back East, it felt like the perfect way to start a new holiday tradition together.

They each had previously participated in other holiday donation programs but felt Adopt-a-Family was truly special after participating that first year.

“Receiving the story about the family is what we loved the most,” Heather explains. “We got to know the names of each child and their parent, and some of the challenges they were working to overcome together. It made shopping for items on their wish list that much more meaningful because we felt like we knew them and cared about what they were going through. We got a sense that we helped an entire family.”

Heather and Nate have adopted a family every year since.

Each year has been meaningful to the couple in special ways. They always cherish the handcrafted thank you notes from their adopted families. Last year, in addition to notes, they also received a bamboo plant from the family. It was such a sweet, unexpected token of appreciation, and they cherished it, too.

Heather and Nate are excited to start shopping for their adopted family this season – and this time together.

Last year, Nate was on an expedition in Antarctica, collecting specimens for an exhibit on Antarctic Dinosaurs coming to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in April. This year will be once again meaningful in a special way.

“Adopt-a-Family not only allows us to help a family in our community, but also an entire organization that we’re really proud to support,” said Heather.

Join Heather and Nate and provide a family with joy and hope this holiday season. 

Sign up here: bit.ly/TGCAdopt2018. Deadline to participate is Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.




Roll Call Mental Health Training Launch

This past year, The Guidance Center embarked on another exciting film project – this time partnering with Long Beach (LBPD) and Los Angeles Police (LAPD) Departments and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) to develop a series of web-based trainings on mental health for any local or state law enforcement agency across the country to use.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, The Guidance Center along with our law enforcement partners announced the national launch of the Roll Call Mental Health Training Video Series at a press conference at Downtown Los Angeles’ Hall of Justice. The video offers a snapshot of the exciting launch.

Roll Call Mental Health Training Video Series offers training that is pragmatic, concrete and direct, with the goal of assisting patrol officers in readily identifying the signs of mental illness in the field and to equip them with the tools to safely and effectively address these encounters.

Thanks to a generous grant from The Ahmanson Foundation the videos are available to law enforcement at no cost.

“There is an urgent need to address mental health differently in our communities across the country,” said Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO of The Guidance Center. “At The Guidance Center, we believe partnerships are key to making this shift as do our Long Beach and Los Angeles law enforcement collaborators. Roll Call Mental Health Training is a meaningful step in breaking the stigma around mental health through education and creating safer communities together.”

The Roll Call Mental Health Training Series was produced by combining The Guidance Center’s more than 70 years of mental health and trauma expertise with the reputable knowledge base from LBPD, LAPD and LASD and their model Mental Evaluation Teams. The goal of the series is to provide a cost-effective, ongoing training program on mental health for law enforcement, without requiring departments to incur the typical expenses associated with one-day crisis intervention trainings.

“I am pleased with this innovative training we have developed through our multi-agency partnership,” said Robert Luna, Chief of LBPD. “Officers encounter unpredictable mental health situations on a daily basis and these videos reinforce critical communication skills to help achieve a positive and safe outcome for all parties involved.”  

The scenario-based training series includes eight, 7-10 minute web-based videos. Each video is formatted to be easily shown during roll call before the officers go into the field. This format allows for the videos to be shown once a week as an 8-week training program, then regularly incorporated into roll call briefings on a reoccurring basis to reinforce knowledge and use of tools in the field. 

“The new training videos give more officers and deputies access to critically important information about individuals who suffer from mental illness,” said Jim McDonnell, Sheriff of Los Angeles County. “This resource will help provide police with some of the tools needed to increase compassion and reduce the need to use force. The goal is to purposefully de-escalate the situation and work toward a positive resolution and get them help.”

The video series teaches practical skills to help officers with a broad range of concerns. Topics covered include:

  • Nonviolent de-escalation tactics,
  • How to assess for serious mental illness,
  • Potential suicides,
  • Understanding Autism,
  • Strategies for children,
  • Writing psychiatric holds that hold, and
  • Self-care

Roll Call Mental Health Training stresses the importance of officers relying on their tactical training, while also providing an understanding of what people with mental illnesses are going through and tactics to safely de-escalate a mental health crisis situation.

Each department in the partnership plans to incorporate the videos into their roll call and other department briefings so all members of their agencies can benefit from the training.

In addition to being shown at roll call in all Patrol Divisions, the LBPD will provide the training to new recruits in the Police Academy, and will e-mail a link that allows all employees access to the training videos.

LAPD will be delivering the roll call training videos as part the Department’s standardized roll call training schedule, beginning January 2019.  The videos will be presented monthly, during all roll calls, featuring a new topic each month.  This will culminate in August with the roll call training video on “Self-Care,” in preparation for Suicide Prevention Month in September.

“Encounters with people who suffer from mental illness often present some of our most challenging circumstances,” said Michel Moore, Chief of LAPD. “The Los Angeles Police Department has been a leader in American policing for decades with its dedicated commitment to mental health training for its personnel. More recently we’ve further expanded specialized teams to respond to mental health crisis’ as well as reemphasized our commitment to de-escalation, and the preservation of life. We are always looking for innovative ways to engage and educate our officers, and these videos will no doubt help to achieve that goal.”

Roll Call Mental Health Training Series was produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, Matthew Murray with cinematography by Evan Barthelman and original music by Mark Kirby.

If you’re a member of a law enforcement agency and wish to access the video series, please register at: https://www.tgclb.org/roll-call/.


It’s Time to Amplify Survivors’ Voices

It could be happening to your neighbor or coworker, the person standing behind you in line to get coffee, or even the child playing next to yours on the playground.

Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, race, religion or education. It is a pervasive crime impacting millions across the US. Anyone can be affected by domestic violence, but there is hope because we all can do something to end it.

Join us this October in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in taking action. It’s important that we take a stand together and break the silence that allows domestic violence to thrive, celebrate survivors and amplify their voices, mourn those we have lost at the hand of domestic violence, and end domestic violence with education.

We stand with organizations here locally and across the nation, like WomenShelter of Long Beach, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), whose sole mission is to end domestic violence and empower survivors, this month and all year-round.

Let’s promote education and awareness, provide hope to those who need it most, and save lives! Join the fight by starting with these actions:

  1. Learn to understand.
    Victims face many barriers to escaping domestic violence. Misconceptions associated with domestic violence have created a society where victims may not feel safe disclosing the abuse or they may fear that they won’t be believed if they come forward. Learning what domestic violence is, its warning signs, and how to change your language so as not to further reinforce misconceptions are powerful ways we can break down a major barrier. NNEDV exposes popular misconceptions and provides responses to helpfully reframe the conversation here. And for statistics, definitions of abuse and other educational information, visit NCADV’s website.

  2. Start the conversation.
    Although it’s estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, incidents may go unreported because victims may not feel safe to talk about the abuse. You can save a life by starting a compassionate conversation. For advice on starting that conversation, download NNEDV’s 10 Tips to Have an Informed Conversation about Domestic Violence.

  3. Become an advocate.
    Break the silence and use your voice online and in-person to spread awareness and extend support to those affected by domestic violence. Volunteer at a local organization committed to helping those affected by domestic violence. Participate in local domestic violence awareness events – join us at WomenShelter’s 12th Annual Awareness and Prevention event: Lead With Love on Saturday, October 20 from 11am to 4pm. Stay informed. Action ignites real change!

Local Domestic Violence Resources

Reporting Abuse

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services

24 Hour Hotline: (800) 540-4000

Legal Help

Women’s Law has legal information and resources for victims.



1736 Family Crisis Center
24-Hour Crisis Hotlines: (310)-370-5902 & (310)-379-3620


The Guidance Center
Compton Clinic: (310) 669-9510


New Star Family Justice Center
24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (800) 978-3600


Victim-Witness Assistance – Compton Branch
(310) 603-7579

24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877) 943-5778
Compton Empowerment Center: (310) 763-9117



Interval House
24-Hour Crisis Hotlines: (562) 594-4555 & (714) 891-8121


WomenShelter of Long Beach

24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (562) 437-4663


Su Casa, Ending Domestic Violence
24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (562) 402-4888


The Guidance Center
Long Beach Clinic: (562) 595-1159


Victim-Witness Assistance – Long Beach Branch
(562) 247-2068


24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)943-5778
South Bay Empowerment Center: (562) 590-6400



Doors of Hope Women’s Shelter 
(310) 518-3667


Rainbow Services DV
24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (310) 547-9343


The Guidance Center
San Pedro Clinic: (310) 833-3135



Sunset Sip 2018: Be the Hero of Your Own Story

We put a call out to all local superheroes for Sunset Sip 2018, and what an incredible showing of superpowers we received last Saturday. We’re so incredibly grateful!

More than 200 superheroes flocked to Hotel Maya, raised more than $170,000, exceeding funds raised in previous years. Sponsors and guests’ generous support at our annual benefit ensures that we will continue to provide critical mental health services to our community’s disadvantaged children and families.

The night kicked off with inspiring words from Eric Adler, Esq., our Board Chair; Tim Sailor, Event Committee Chair; and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, EdD.

“In Long Beach, we’re very grateful for [attendees’] supporting such an important part of our community,” said Mayor Garcia at the event Saturday night. “If it wasn’t for The Guidance Center, we would have so many young people without an important place to turn, without a mentor, and certainly without the care that they need to be their very best selves.”

As the sun set over the ocean, guests were invited to “unleash their superpowers” and “be the hero of their own story” through various immersive play therapy experiences. While enjoying unlimited wine tastings and bidding on fun silent auction items (this year featured items like Comic Con San Diego tickets and a giant toy horse complete with a Batman cape!), guests had the opportunity to participate in play therapy exhibits hosted by The Guidance Center therapists: Superhero-themed Mask Making, Dress-Up Photo Booth, and Chutes and Ladders.

After the cocktail and silent auction portion of the evening, guests strolled into the nearby pavilion for a delectable dinner crafted by Hotel Maya’s award winning chefs. Paddles were then raised to compete over exciting live auction items, like exotic getaways and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Once all the live auction items were claimed, the true stars of the night, 12-year-old and 8-year-old siblings and former clients of The Guidance Center, Saniya and Christopher, Jr., took the stage and inspired guests with their stories of overcoming challenges, like bullying, and gaining the skills to maintain positive mental health with help from The Guidance Center.

“The way therapy helped me was improving on my blind spots: wanting to fit in, feeling insecure, feeling imperfect and thinking that I was a bad kid,” said Saniya. “It changed my mind set…In sessions, my therapist helped me out in ways no other therapist could. She helped me because I felt connected, and she made me feel like she cared. She was understanding.”

Make sure to check out our Sunset Sip Digital Tribute Book 2018 for more event highlights, photos, sponsor messages, and more! Head over to our Facebook page to see the full album of photos from the night and don’t forget to like, comment, and share.

Thank you all for making Sunset Sip 2018 a SUPER night.
Cheers to many more!





Be the Hero of Your Own Story Explained, Pt. 4

Be the hero of your own story. Unleash your superpowers. That’s what Sunset Sip 2018 is all about. But, how do superheroes and superpowers connect to our mission at The Guidance Center?

Last week, Patricia Costales, LCSW shared her perspective as a community mental health veteran and CEO of The Guidance Center. This week, we enlisted the help of our community partners and one of our Sunset Sip Santa Barbara sponsors, Century Villages at Cabrillo, to help answer that question from a community perspective.

Hi, I’m Kimberly Wee, Director of Residential Services here at Century Villages at Cabrillo. And I’m Jaylene Westfall, Resident Services Supervisor here at Century Villages at Cabrillo.

You may have heard of Century Villages at Cabrillo, located on the Westside of Long Beach, but for those of you who have not, I want to give you a little bit of background on what we do. We’re a 27-acre campus, providing supportive services and housing for 1,500 individuals on any given night. We have a continuum of care for people who have experienced homelessness in the past from emergency shelter all the way up to permanent supportive housing. One of our wonderful partners is The Guidance Center, which we are able to refer many of our young clients to receive the support that they need from mental health along with their families.

When we were thinking about what our favorite superhero is, both Jaylene and I came up with the same person: Wonder Woman. So we decided to do a video together. When I was thinking back about who my favorite superhero is, it took me way back to the Lynda Carter days of Wonder Woman. I was just a very young girl, but at the time, I just thought she was the most powerful, beautiful woman that I’d ever seen on TV. I had the Halloween costume for Wonder Woman. I even had the underoos for Wonder Woman. I would run around the house with bracelets. I never wanted to take off that costume. I watched the TV show. And what struck me at the time was, just like I said, that there was this very powerful woman, and I just wanted to be her back then.

I (Jaylene) also had the underoos and ran around the house pretending to be Wonder Woman. I remember Wonder Woman always with her Lasso of Truth and always fighting for, in my mind, the little guy, the person who couldn’t or didn’t have the strength to fight for themselves. I remember going to watch the new Wonder Woman movie. I was so overwhelmed with the strong female character that it almost made me cry. I was so excited to see that continue. So when I think when I think about what being a superhero is, I look at the way we support our residents. We try to create a safe space for them and often feel like we’re, in essence, fighting for the little guy.

I (Kimberly) agree, and think Wonder Woman is the perfect character for us, especially for women leaders in nonprofit. I was very young at the time and didn’t realize what Wonder Woman did for gender equality, but now looking back, I see that it was a big deal back then to have a woman in a powerful role. Very often superheroes have something to overcome, and for her, it was being bound or shut down by men. I think that’s something that in my work over the last 20 years I’ve really tried to fight for women’s rights and gender equality. And I think Jaylene and I both have that same background.

We’re really happy that we have this opportunity to talk about our favorite superhero, and we want to offer that opportunity to you. So hopefully you’ll be able to support The Guidance Center and join us all on Sept. 15 at the Hotel Maya. Sunset Sip is a great event. It’s fun and so powerful. We hope we see you there.

To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, visit http://bit.ly/SUNSETSIP2018.



Be the Hero of Your Own Story Explained Pt. 2

Be the Hero of Your Own Story Pt. 2 - feature image (1)

Be the hero of your own story. Unleash your superpowers. That’s what Sunset Sip 2018 is all about. But, how do superheroes and superpowers connect to our mission at The Guidance Center?

Last week, San Pedro Clinical Therapist and Supervisor, Steven Frausto, LCSW, provided insight into our theme from a staff perspective. This week, we enlisted the help of Luis Maimoni, LMFT to help answer that question from a perspective of a Board Member who deeply understands our mission and a clinical therapist himself.

By day, Luis is a bilingual (Spanish/English) therapist in the outpatient department of a community mental health agency in Gardena, CA. His clients are children with problems at school, at home, with friends, or in the community. He collaborates with these children and their families to find and treat the root cause. As a member of the Board of Directors of The Guidance Center, he is able to directly support the effort to erase the stigma associated with mental health, and advocate for clients and providers. Prior to working in mental health, Luis’s career focused on sales and marketing.


Hi. My name is Luis Maimoni, LMFT. I’m a member of the Board here at The Guidance Center, and I’d like to talk to you about superheroes and superpowers.

All of us have a superpower. We just don’t always know what it is. Superheroes it’s easy to see. Some of them can fly. Some of them bullets bounce off of them. But even with all those superpowers, there’s always a secret. They’re never able to solve the real problem that’s creating the problem, right? The root cause. That’s why we need a real superpower.

Why is it that the X-Men can’t get along? Why is it that every comic book superhero is flawed? It’s an interesting question, and it’s probably because of the families they grew up in. Each family is unique. And so what we need is a superpower that can address families and bring about change in families, positive change – help them communicate better, manage jealousy, manage anxiety and depression.

What about the kid that just can’t seem to get along with his friends? Or, can’t do his work in school? How about a superpower that could fix that? Well it turns out you may not have known your superpower until now, but that is your superpower.

You have the ability to make those changes in families right here in Long Beach, Compton, San Pedro, and Catalina Island. The Guidance Center serves all those communities and if you can participate in the Sunset Sip, which is a wonderful activity, you will find your superpower helping families change for the better.

We look forward to your support. Thank you so much.

To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, visit http://bit.ly/SUNSETSIP2018.



It’s About T.I.M.E. Spreads with Help from CSULB Social Work Students

MSW Blog Post - feature image

The following comes from Teri Gartner, a recent Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), after she and her student group trained with Nathan Swaringen, LCSW, clinical therapist and developer and lead of our It’s About T.I.M.E. (Trauma-Informed Movement in Education) program.

In our final year as MSW students, our capstone project was to assess a community within Long Beach, identify areas of strength and need, and develop an evidence-based project to address one of those needs. The need we discovered and chose to focus on in the 90813 zip code was an academic achievement gap when compared to neighboring regions.

Trauma-informed approaches have shown effectiveness at reducing academic achievement gaps by increasing knowledge of how trauma affects brain development and how it manifests in student behavioral challenges. This understanding leads to the development of a “trauma-informed lens” that increases empathy, patience, and unconditional love which pave the way for more effective approaches to treating behavioral challenges in the school setting. This also creates a more positive school climate in which students feel nurtured and supported. A more positive school climate serves to increase attendance rates while decreasing suspension and expulsion rates, thereby reducing educational achievement gaps. 

Having attended The Guidance Center’s screening of Paper Tigers in 2016 at the Art Theatre and hearing Nathan Swaringen, LCSW speak on It’s About T.I.M.E., I knew he would be just the right person to help inform our project. Fortunately, my internship supervisor, Sheri Koller, previously worked for The Guidance Center and knew Nathan’s contact information.

Nathan volunteered his time, passion, and expert knowledge to train our group in the effects of trauma on the brain so that we could share that knowledge and understanding with the Washington Middle School community within the 90813 zip code.

With Nathan’s training, we developed a 45-minute training on trauma for Washington Middle School staff. From the school, 20 voluntary participants attended. Another group of MSW students utilized Nathan’s training by creating a parent-friendly version, and translating their training into Spanish to share with the 28 Spanish-speaking parents that attended.

In both trainings, school staff and parents learned about the diversity of trauma, its effects on brain development, how they as the adults in their children’s or student’s lives can apply this knowledge to facilitate greater emotional connections and relationships, and in turn see increased academic success.

In addition to Nathan’s support, this project was made possible with the help of Helen Makiridis, Assistant Principal at Washington, who provided the time, space, and recruitment of school staff and parents.

The following are a few responses we received after the trainings from participants:

“Trauma is not always obvious and the effects of it can come out in erratic behaviors.”

“It is not just the ‘bad’ that can create trauma, but the lack of ‘good’ that is experienced.”

“Traumatic behavior can be regulated through relationships.”


CSULB MSW Student Group edit


Minority Mental Health Month

MMHM 2018 Blog - Feature Image

One in 5 children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). New data shows that depression has surpassed asthma as the number one health issue for U.S. youth. Unmet mental health needs often lead to issues at school that prevent successfully graduating, and cause troubles in the home and encounters with law enforcement.

Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity, but experiences and accessing care can be challenging due to cultural factors.

Our vision at The Guidance Center is to create a community where all children have the help they need to be healthy and happy. That’s why we’re joining with mental health organizations and associations around the county this July Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness and cure stigma.

Why is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month important?

Mental health stigma is unfortunately prevalent throughout the world. That stigma can look and sound different in every community. Myths and misconceptions – that mental health issues are taboo or just weaknesses – can be passed down through generations, preventing those struggling from asking for help. Cultural traditions can also play a role in how each community perceives and copes with mental health and treatment of related issues.

For marginalized communities, stigma is not the only thing that can prevent those struggling from getting the help they need to heal. In addition to the cultural stigma, many communities face significant barriers in accessibility to mental health services including health coverage and lower quality care.

Quality of care is not equal. But, it doesn’t have to remain this way.

How can you support and participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?

  • Use your voice
    • Share your story – Struggling with a mental health challenge can be very isolating. Finding others around you who may be experiencing similar challenges is powerful. Sharing your story is often the first step in discovering you’re not alone and creating a network of support that will help de-stigmatize mental health as well as aid in your recovery and management of symptoms. If you’re not ready to have an in-person conversation with a loved one, there are safe places online to share your story and experience support from peers, like Ok2Talk or You Are Not Alone.
    • Become an advocate – Start the conversation at home, with friends or in your workplace to normalize mental health conditions and treatments. Support loved ones by being a safe place for them to share their story. Encourage them to seek professional help. Share information and resources in-person and on social media. Advocate for broader inclusion.If you’re looking to start the conversation in your community but don’t know where to start, Mental Health America (MHA) has compiled information on mental health issues impacting different minority groups to help make that conversation easier. They’ve also provided materials in Spanish. Click here to view. MedlinePlus also provides mental health information in multiple languages.

Fighting stigma and normalizing mental health conditions and treatments requires all of us to raise our voices. Share our stories. And be a safe place for yourself and others.

Join us this month in support of Minority Mental Health Month. There’s hope when we support each other.