Promoting Mental Health Through Support Groups
There are many women who come through our doors each week seeking assistance for their families. Some of them struggle with food insecurity, others are in between jobs, and many are working through issues like low self-esteem or depression caused by past trauma or family disfunction. It was this need that inspired us to expand our counseling program to include support groups. In addition to enabling us to provide services to more families than we could through individual counseling sessions, the support group model builds a strong sense of community among those who attend.
Our first group of 14 women began meeting in our Community Center a few months ago. Under the guidance of Evelyn Franco, an LPC-Intern, the women learn effective strategies like how to notice negative thought patterns and change them into something more beneficial. It has been amazing to watch these women be so open and offer so much encouragement to each other in such a short time. When asked how the support group has made a difference in her life, one participant said, “Before, I couldn’t identify what my problem was and what tools I needed to solve it. Now I can express myself better and I’m more active socially.”
May is mental health awareness month, so we are celebrating our programs that promote well-being through mental health services. 1 in 5 adults in the United States are living with some type of mental health issue, but most people do not seek help until it is an emergency, if at all. Financially vulnerable families in particular tend not to make mental health a priority because of the stigma associated with it and the prohibitive cost of treatment. Our hope is that our Community Center will be a place where families can find the help they need and that our counseling programs will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. We believe that the investment we are making in these women through group counseling will lead to healthier families and, ultimately, a healthier community.