By Susan Parmelee

Susan Parmelee

Last month, I had the opportunity to introduce you to our Drug Free Communities Wellness & Prevention Coalition leadership team and the important work that the Wellness & Prevention Center does to lower substance use among our youth. This month, I would like to let you know more about our mental health services. Since 2014, the Wellness & Prevention Center has been providing mental health services in local secondary schools. Two years ago, we also introduced afternoon and evening mental health services that are open to all community members.

The overarching goal of our mental health services is to increase access to mental health services for both public and privately insured individuals. We use two main strategies to achieve this goal: education designed to lower the stigma surrounding the diseases of mental health and providing services on school sites and community sites that are easy to access with no insurance restrictions.

Wellness & Prevention Center staff provide education about raising healthy teens through social media and bi-monthly emails. We hold live education events in the classroom and in the evenings that help youth and their families understand the difference between normal teen behavior and symptoms that may be of concern. We help families connect to supportive services in the community and through their health insurance.

The majority of teens’ social emotional learning takes place at school, where youth spend the majority of their day. Our school-based offices at middle and high schools are a safe place for youth to stop in to discuss their stressors and work out positive solutions. Many families are made up of two working parents who may find it difficult to bring their teen to therapy due to hectic schedules, so we step in and schedule sessions for their child at their school.

The Wellness & Prevention Center’s partnership with Capistrano Unified School District now benefits all of the secondary schools in San Clemente, as well as San Juan Hills High School.  And this year, we are pleased to announce that we are adding services at the two middle schools in Aliso Viejo. Through generous support of local donors, health care foundations, and business and family foundations, the Wellness & Prevention Center is a model for using public-private partnerships to ensure healthy futures.

I hope you are now wondering, “What can I do to help?” The Wellness & Prevention Center relies heavily on the support of private donors and in-kind donations in order to provide accessible mental health services.

Please consider these options:

  1. Attend our annual benefit on September 28, from 5:30-9 p.m., at a private beachfront home. Dinner and drinks, as well as fabulous silent auction items and entertainments. Buy tickets here: bit.ly/impactwpc.
  2. Sign up for our bi-monthly email. It keeps you current on community activities and events, as well as provides educational materials: wpc-oc.org.
  3. Make a donation to support our work: wpc-oc.org.
  4. Buy an Outlets at San Clemente Shopping Extravaganza ticket and select the Wellness & Prevention Center as the charity you support: outletsatsanclemente.com/tickets/.
  5. Attend our Saturday, October 12 community education event: Together4Teens at Capistrano Valley High School. This event is for ages 12 to adult and is a free event. Reserve your seat today at together4teens.eventbrite.com.

Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente. She can be reached at susan@wellnessandpreventionsanclemente.com

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