Page 59 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
P. 59

  “There was
a time when mental health
was something that was never discussed. People didn’t understand it; therefore,
they feared it. Subsequently, they made judgments about it.”
ered in community-based clinic settings, as well as our home behavioral-health services for youth and families,” Nesci said. “We’ve expanded and grown our in-home services to include hospital diversion for youth. In addi- tion to that, we also provide services for peo- ple who are struggling with substance abuse. We have six recovery centers statewide, and then we are also providing recovery coaching to individuals in the community who are in recovery.
“I’ve been here almost four and a half years,” she added, “and during that time, I’ve seen our services grow in a lot of areas, par- ticularly in the area of substance-abuse ser- vices, our youth services, and our behavioral- health services to children and adults.”
The organization’s footprint has also grown, expanding into the Berkshires, Fitch- burg, Falmouth, and Worcester, to name a few more recent locations.
Starting the Conversation
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but Nesci wants critical conversations to hap- pen year-round.
Participants in Gándara’s PhotoVoice educational campaign promote mental- health awareness, demystify stigma around mental health and addiction, and illustrate barriers to seeking help.
 “There was a time when mental health
was something that was never discussed,” she said. “People didn’t understand it; therefore, they feared it. Subsequently, they made judgments about it.”
Though stigma still exists, she added, plenty of progress has been made to break down those barriers, and Gándara’s focus on cultural competency is part of that.
“When we started talking about mental health being just as important as physical health, it began to change the rhetoric around providing safe spaces for individuals to be able to get services.
“It’s very important to have a space that’s judgment-free,” Nesci
continued. “When an agency like us meets people where they are
in the community, as recovery coaches or with behavioral-health therapy in their homes, speaking the language of individuals, under- standing cultural backgrounds, people feel welcome. They don’t feel judged. They feel like someone understands them.”
And that builds trust and relationships, which she calls the great- est catalyst for people to make needed improvements in their lives — which has, after all, been Gándara Center’s mission for almost 50 years. BW
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