Santa Barbara & Carpinteria High School students from Youth Wellness Connection Council Mental at Wellness Center’s first ever Stigma Buster Celebration.
The Mental Wellness Center (MWC) held its first ever Stigma Buster Celebration May 1 in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month and the efforts of its local graduates and partners.
About 100 supporters gathered at MWC’s Fellowship Club, which by day, operates as a community center for individuals living with a mental illness. The celebration shined a light on the generosity of the Mental Wellness Giving Society, graduating seniors from the Youth Wellness Connection Council, teaching team from Mental Health Matters and the incredible work of California HOPE 805.
“So many incredible things happen behind our walls each day, so we wanted to open the doors and share some of those stories,” said Mental Wellness Center CEO Annmarie Cameron. “We want people to know mental illness isn’t a dark secret, but something that can impact anyone. We’re here to help our community grow stronger.”
The event began with Cameron sharing her experience during a typical day at the nonprofit. As guests stood in the sunflower-filled space of the Fellowship Club, many might not have known that hours earlier, the Club served lunch to 75 individuals, many who are homeless. Homeless members often look to MWC for their daily source of food, social connection and foremost, a safe space for members to come to. If members choose, they can partake in the many activities and resources available to them. Annually, the Club serves over 400 individuals.
During the event, local Santa Barbara and Carpinteria High School students shared the impact MWC has had on their high school experience, thanks to the powerful programming of the Youth Wellness Connection Council. High school council members learn about mental health and share their knowledge with peers in their schools. Their parents watched proudly as the next generation showed how they are busting stigma and promoting dialogue about mental health on their campuses.
Mental Health Matters, another MWC program, was also highlighted during the event. This program introduces basic facts about mental health to elementary, middle and high school students in Santa Barbara County. During the program, Mental Health Matters Director Dr. Ann Lippincott shared that although the program was taught in a single classroom when founded in 2008, it is in over 70 today. Mental Health Matters teaches young students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and also about stigma and self-care.
The celebration also touched on the incredible work that California HOPE 805 did through MWC this past year in response to the recent disasters the community faced. The program concluded with members of the Mental Wellness Giving Society being called on stage and thanked for their dedicated, continued support. Giving Society members were given beautiful, sunflower bouquets and praised as stigma busters helping to improve mental wellness in our community. The Mental Wellness Giving Society provides a foundation of financial support for all of the programs at MWC.
MWC chose Mental Wellness Month to celebrate the great work of so many who have dedicated themselves and their work toward the nonprofit’s mission to advance mental wellness in Santa Barbara County. MWC is working towards a future where mental health is considered as essential as physical health and stigma is a belief of the past.
For more information, contact Amanda Conroy, Development & Communications Manager, at 805-845-3298, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Wellness Center
Since 1947, the Mental Wellness Center has continuously focused on the needs of those impacted by mental illness. Providing education and support, we are dedicated to meeting the immediate and future needs of our youth, adults, families, and the greater community. Each year, the Mental Wellness Center works with hundreds of individuals and families to improve and maintain mental wellness in Santa Barbara.