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  “As we continue to break the stigma around mental health, people become more and more willing to discuss some of their struggles or ask for help.”
• Youth, young-adult, and family services, including children’s behavioral health, foster care, and youth and young-adult residential homes;
• Substance use and recovery, with services include recovery coaching, peer recovery centers, and long-term residential treat- ment for men, women, and young adults with substance-use disor- der and co-occurring mental-health disorders;
• Community and prevention, including health-education pro- grams and initiatives that provide resources and information addressing numerous public-health areas while representing the multicultural needs of the region; and
• Intellectual and developmental disability services, which pro- mote the health and well-being of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those with behavioral health and/or substance-use disorders.
Gándara’s mental-health services — its most robust collection of offerings — focus on a few key areas: outpatient behavioral-health clinics, children’s behavioral health, substance-use and recovery ser- vices, and adult community clinical services.
“Gándara has always had a mission to help people at the grass- roots level,” Nesci said. “We’re in communities where people live. We’re accessible and very visible. We provide the linguistic ability to meet people where they’re at, and the staff reflects the population we serve.”
As a multi-service organization with a geographic footprint state- wide, Gándara targets many of its programs at specific populations, such as recovery programs for Hispanic individuals and a residen- tial group home for LGBTQ+ youth, Nesci noted. “Gándara has always responded to individual needs in the community.”
Five Decades of Growth
According to its website, Gándara Center was founded in Springfield in 1977 to advocate and provide for equal, culturally competent behavioral-health services for the Hispanic community.
The 1970s saw a large wave of Hispanic migration to the Great- er Springfield area, and the portion of newcomers who had mental- health and substance-use issues had limited access to services that
Lois Nesci says mental-health needs have increased, but so have the conversations around them.
Staff Photo
could help them.
Fortunately, in 1977 — and later, as a part of President Carter’s
Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 — funding was made available to communities across the U.S. to address the mental-health needs of individuals suffering from serious mental illness, including the elderly as well as racial and ethnic minority communities.
The city of Springfield submitted a citywide application that
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