Did you know that May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month?

This monthly celebration helps to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and promote education for mental health. In our busy day-to-day lives, it can be hard to make time to fit everything into our schedule. However, it is so important to care for our well-being and this includes both our physical and mental health!


Why Mental Health Matters


Mental illness is the most common health condition in the United States, affecting 1 in 5 people (The Centers for Disease Control). Many things can affect our mental health, including daily stressors, major life events, or even biological factors.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) can also be a huge factor. These are experiences that stand out to us in our childhood as traumatic and may shape the way that we think, feel, or act. Examples include physical or emotional abuse, neglect from a parent or guardian, and dysfunctional family systems. To learn more, take the ACES Quiz to see how your childhood experiences may impact your overall well-being.



Break The Stigma

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” ~Bill Clinton


While we know mental health is important to prioritize, it can still be hard to talk about it. We might have intense feelings that overwhelm us or might not know who to reach out to for support. Also, in some cultures, there may be a stigma around talking about your mental health. This could be in the form of shame or societal pressure to keep things to yourself. Often this creates feelings of isolation or suppresses emotions, which can delay us from receiving mental health support. Establishing care early on can make a huge difference, especially in the lives of children.




Establish Support Systems

Although it might seem difficult, it is okay to ask for help from others when you need it. You should establish a solid support system with people you can trust. It can help to talk through difficult emotions and even bring you closer to the people in your life. Children heavily rely on the adults in their lives to model for them how to self-advocate and regulate their emotions.

What important roles can you serve in a child’s support network?

  • Parents and Guardians – By creating a safe foundation for children to talk about their emotions, you can normalize working through any big feelings they might have. You may want to also check out books from your local library that tackle a variety of issues relating to mental health and well-being. If you have any serious concerns, consult a healthcare professional accordingly.


  • Teachers Mental health check-ins help assess what energy students bring into the classroom. Try implementing a mental health check-in question or activity with your class before beginning your lesson to show them that their feelings matter and you are a safe place to voice concerns. You might want to also collaborate with parents if you have concerns about how children are behaving in school.


  • Health Care Professionals – Are you meeting clients where they are right now? This gentle, intentional approach can make children feel validated and understood. It can help to break down complex topics into more digestible (less technical or medical-sounding) language and to create reliability with them. 


  • Community Advocates: If you do not have kids, you can still be an advocate for children’s mental health. Stay updated on issues affecting the community and find ways to get involved. This could mean following mental health organizations on social media to educate yourself on important issues.
Join the Movement

Want to join the movement? There are many ways you can raise awareness for mental health like sharing your story with others, volunteering your time, or donating to mental health organizations.

As a child-serving organization, The Guidance Center is dedicated to the work we do in the community to break barriers to mental health. We have a diverse group of dedicated clinicians who provide life-saving comprehensive mental health services to children and families in our community. Additionally, we have a range of community-based services to extend support healing beyond our walls.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, The Guidance Center joined forces with MemorialCare Miller Children’s Hospital for a panel discussion on “Protecting Youth Mental Health.” Our amazing Pediatric Psychologist Christina Zavalza, Psy.D. was one of several panelists for this event. She spoke alongside representatives from the City of Long Beach, LGBTQ Center Long Beach, Mental Health America Los Angeles, and Make Noise Today. In her remarks, Dr. Zavalza spoke about the “mind and body connection” or shared link between our physical functions and our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. There are various stressors for children and adolescents. Experiencing household dysfunction, for example, can cause feelings of anxiety and affect performance in school. By identifying different stressors, psychologists like Dr. Zalvaza can initiate important conversations with children and discover a point of motivation for them. She also emphasized the need for creating more diverse care teams that include both physical and mental health providers. Children and adolescents also grow their support systems when mental health and medical professionals work together.



Mental Health Resources


1.) Behavior Health Virtual Services

First, consider choosing a virtual mental health service. Earlier this year Governor Gavin Newsom developed a Children and Behavioral Health initiative to create more mental health support and services for children and families. A priority of this initiative was to create two behavioral health virtual services platforms for young adults and teens. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), in partnership with Kooth and Brightlife, launched web- and app-based Behavioral Health Virtual Service platforms that each offer free resources to California residents, regardless of insurance coverage.

Virtual Services Included:
    • One-on-one mental health support with a live coach
    • Media library with digital mental health resources
    • Guided wellness exercises to promote mindfulness
    • Peer-to-peer support groups moderated by trained behavioral health professionals




2.) Long Beach Early Learning Hub

Next, do your research on the different options for childcare and support centers. The Mayor’s Fund for Long Beach recently developed a resource that connects families to childcare in Long Beach. The Long Beach Early Learning Hub acts as a one-stop shop for families to search, apply, and enroll in childcare all in one place. This streamlines the process for parents and caregivers and makes it easier to research different child-serving organizations to determine which one is best suited to meet their child’s needs. The Guidance Center is listed as a resource within this hub alongside other community programs and resources geared toward children’s mental health.


Long Beach Early Childhood Learning Hub


3.) Mindfulness & Movement Playlist

Lastly, add a quick meditation to your day! This mindfulness practice can help reduce stress, ground yourself, and revive energy. The Guidance Center has created a series of meditation videos on YouTube to encourage mindfulness and movement. These videos are good for all ages with a majority available in both English and Spanish.

Mindfulness Videos Included:
    • Butterfly Breathing: a type of breathing exercise that helps keep your body calm through slow, relaxed breathing.
    • Orb of Light: a type of meditation that helps reduce physical discomfort and stress through movement.
    • Leaves on a Stream: a type of meditation that helps you work through feelings of stress and anxiety.
    • Canopy of Stars: a type of meditation that helps relax your body before sleeping and continue healthy sleeping habits.
    • Birthday Cake Breathing: a type of breathing exercise that helps calm your mind when you feel overwhelmed, agitated, or stressed.
    • Box Breathing: a type of breathing exercise that helps calm any anxiety or other big feelings you may have right now.



After reading this blog, you have the information, tools, and resources to support yourself and others. We hope you continue prioritizing your mental health because it is as important as your physical health. Stay tuned for more mental health content!