As the year 2022 comes to a close, we all realize how naïve we were in waiting so eagerly for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and our return to “normal.” At The Guidance Center, we continue to adapt to what has become a “new normal.” As essential workers in mental health, our jobs simply can’t always be remote; children and families need us and mental health services simply aren’t as effective in a remote format, especially when working with children. We strive to balance keeping staff and clients healthy and safe, while also recognizing the increasingly acute mental health needs of the children in our community who are coming off the isolation of a global pandemic that shuttered their worlds. I remain incredibly proud of The Guidance Center staff who continue to rise to the occasion to serve our families, and of the families who continue to find the courage to reach out and ask for help.
•We continued to be a beacon of hope for children and families, meeting with them in our clinics, local schools, or in the community, safely and masked, but still together; and for those who were unable to meet in person, we chatted over Zoom or even the telephone. We treated 2,950 children offering over 79,284 hours of care.
•In response to the alarming number of clients who reported suicidal ideation, symptoms of self-harm or depression, we provided specialized Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk trainings to mental health professionals and community members, in addition to Collaborative and Management of Suicidology for Guidance Center clinical staff. These trainings were made possible thanks to generous grants from the Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation and the Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation.
•Through the efforts of our Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force, we partnered with the Long Beach Unified School District and hired two bilingual therapists to implement a district-wide, emergency response team to decrease police presence on school campuses, decrease suspensions and expulsions, and increase safety and emotional wellness for all students. This is a first of its kind partnership between schools, law enforcement and mental health to bring much needed supportive services to our children. In the first six months alone, the School Crisis Response Team responded to 60 active crises.
•In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we enhanced our trauma-informed care services for vulnerable and under-represented youth by increasing accessibility to mental health services through outreach, education and engagement workshops in the community. Thanks to a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), our Community Health Workers have conducted workshops and trainings to educate parents and community members on various mental health topics and provide guidance on supporting children with mental illnesses and trauma. To date, we have provided 53 workshops to 235 participants.
•We celebrated our 75th anniversary in person at our annual gala, Sunset Sip. In addition to marking the milestone anniversary, we had the privilege of honoring and recognizing board member Tim Sailor with our Hope Award for his 20 years of dedication and service.
I am humbled by the dedication of the wonderful Guidance Center staff who come to work every day, giving their all to support our mission of bringing vital mental health support to our most under-resourced communities. I am equally grateful to our friends and supporters, without whom we would not be able to do our work. In difficult times, it is vital to find a way forward. I thank the extended Guidance Center family for showing the way.
Happy holidays, and best wishes for the restorative 2023.
Patricia Costales, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer