Serving the community since 1970

Shedding light on mental health

College Community Services hosted a mental health awareness event on Thursday to bring resources and information to the residents of Wasco.

Noemi Ojeda is the program director and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

"We are here today celebrating mental health awareness month," she told the attendees,

She said the goal was to bring awareness and resources to the community.

"Everybody is affected by mental health in some way, and events like this are important to help link people to the help they deserve."

The best part for her was coming together to enjoy each other's company and good food, and provide the community an opportunity to access resources.

It is their first year hosting the event in Wasco since recently moving to a location here.

"We plan to continue with this so people can keep coming back every year."

CCS provides mental health and substance abuse resources, psychiatric services, case management, intensified services for more severe symptoms, peer support services, trauma-informed care, group therapy, crisis services, individual and family counseling and linkage to other community agencies.

They also have a 24-hour crisis line: 877-300-4738.

She said CCS hopes to fight the stigma associated with mental health.

"There are still a lot of people that don't believe mental health is real," Ojeda said. "Some cultures think that we can just suck it up with our problems and move on."

"We are working to break that stigma by starting the conversation with people and normalizing mental health."

One of the biggest challenges to fighting stigma, she said, is that people don't get help until they are at the point of hospitalization or crisis.

She believes mental health should be treated as any other medical diagnosis.

The message she hopes to spread to the community is to tell those suffering in silence that they are not alone and that there are people waiting to come to them with open arms.

Ojeda said she loves her job.

"I am very passionate about helping people grow and passionate about working in this town because it is the town I grew up in."

Most of the staff is bilingual to accommodate the large Latino Spanish-speaking demographic in Wasco. "We have allocated funding for those who are not able to have insurance," she said.

There are adult and children clinics.

CCS was established more than 20 years ago with the mission to provide great care to those in need.

Ojeda encourages those struggling with mental health to reach out to CCS and schedule an assessment.

"It's the first step towards recovery."

For more information on getting help, call 661-758-4029 for the children's clinic and 661-674-3377 for the adult clinic.


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