Doc + May Mental Health Blog Header - Facebook (1)This past Wednesday, April 26, we hosted the first public screening of our original documentary film, The Bridge: Pathways to a Trauma-Informed Community. And what an inspiring evening it was!

More than 175 community members filled the Art Theatre in Long Beach to experience the film and hear from community leaders who are working to implement the trauma-informed approach in their respective fields during a panel discussion. It was great to make new friends and see so many familiar faces from organizations all over Long Beach!

Through filmed interviews with community leaders and former Guidance Center clients, attendees learned about the effects of poverty on mental health, and how cultivating a trauma-informed community is part of the wider solution for breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

The panel discussion immediately following the screening further underscored the effects of poverty as trauma impacting mental health and provided attendees with practical ways they can help their neighbors through a “trauma-informed lens.”

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna encouraged attendees by reminding them that each of us have tremendous power to change someone’s life. He emphasized the importance of building relationships with our community’s youth as they may not have someone in their lives to whom they can go to for advice.

Tiffany Brown, EdD, assistant superintendent of School Support Services at LBUSD, agreed and explained how relationships are healing, and because of that everyone has the opportunity to be helpful. She highlighted the business owner, Gio Ferraro, who was interviewed in the documentary, as a great example of a “turning point person” because of how Gio’s simple act of talking to a young man who was homeless at the time led him to achieve his career goal and make a brighter future for himself.

Kelly Colopy, MA, director of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, encouraged attendees to educate themselves on the available resources in Long Beach so that they can feel empowered to make those connections with people who may be homeless, and have the information to point them in the direction of helpful services.

Elisa Nicholas, MD, MSPH, CEO of The Children’s Clinic, encouraged attendees to try to understand people instead of judging, explaining that those angry people you may encounter in your daily life aren’t angry at you, but may be struggling with something you can’t see. Instead of reacting to them with your own fear response, a helpful, healing response would be to calmly asking are you ok? Or, how are you doing today?

Nathan Swaringen, LCSW, clinical therapist with our School Based program and lead of It’s About T.I.M.E., added, “You don’t have to provide therapy to be therapeutic. It’s about administering those little doses of love, asking a child how they are doing today, taking the time to compliment them on small things like their shoes – ‘whoa, those shoes look so fast!’ It’s those simple caring interactions that make all the difference.”

We want to say thank you to everyone who came out to support the movement! And, a special thanks to our friends who attended and helped spread the word, including:

Our Distinguished Panelists

Robert Luna, police chief for City of Long Beach; Tiffany Brown, EdD, assistant superintendent of School Support Services at LBUSD; Kelly Colopy, MA, director of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services; Elisa Nicholas, MD, MSPH, CEO of The Children’s Clinic; and Nathan Swaringen, LCSW, clinical therapist at The Guidance Center.

The Guidance Center Board Members and Supporters

Susan Cooper, Susie and Jim Fox, Elaine and Tom Marks, Steven Neal, Ana Perez, Tim Sailor and Kevin Howard, Betsy Snare and Ed Walters, Jim Walsh, and Jerry Wilson

Local Nonprofit Organizations & Agencies

Century Villages at Cabrillo, The Children’s Clinic, Child Net, City of Long Beach, For The Child, Los Angeles County Office of Education, The LGBTQ Center, Memorial Care, Precious Lamb Preschool, Women’s Shelter of Long Beach, and YMCA of Greater Long Beach

Let’s keep the movement going during May Mental Health Awareness Month!

Next week is the start of Mental Health Month, and we invite you to join us in speaking out about mental health all month long! This is a great opportunity to learn more about mental health, become inspired by personal stories of those impacted, use your voice to help fight stigma and take action to help others. 

We just love the theme that National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) selected this year: Into Mental Health – Inspired, Informed, Involved! By voicing that you’re #IntoMentalHealth, you can help fight the stigma that causes people to feel isolated and keeps them from asking for help that saves lives.

Let’s do our part to raise awareness and stop the stigma! Here’s a few simple ways you can make a difference:

  • Start the conversation with your friends in person and on social media with hashtags like #IntoMentalHealth, #MHM2017, #StopStigma, #MentalHealthMatters
  • Educate yourself on the facts regarding common mental health conditions
  • Learn the warning signs of mental health conditions and bookmark resources so you can refer a loved one who is struggling where to get help
  • Take the NAMI pledge to be “stigma free” by avoiding labels and using respectful language when speaking of those with mental illness
  • Talk to your doctor about mental health if it’s not already a part of your annual wellness check up
  • Be supportive of those in your life who are struggling with mental health issues themselves or in their families
  • Attend our It’s About T.I.M.E. Social Hour Fundraiser on May 17 to help us keep the trauma-informed movement. Buy your tickets here:
  • Shop with a purpose at Blue Moon Boutique throughout the month of May – especially on May 25 during our Sip and Shop event

Mark your calendar for these awareness weeks and two special opportunities to support The Guidance Center!


May 1 –6, 2017

Screen-Free Week – unplug from digital entertainment

May 4 – Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day


May 7 –13, 2017

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week


May 14 –20, 2017

National Women’s Health Week

May 17 – It’s About T.I.M.E. Social Hour


May 14 – 20, 2017

National Prevention Week by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA)

May 25 – Sip and Shop event at Blue Moon Boutique benefiting The Guidance Center (details to be announced soon!)