Our nonprofit sector is working long hours to meet community needs during this incredibly challenging time. To avoid burdening our grant recipients further with interview requests, we are providing the following stories of several nonprofit response efforts. We hope to showcase more of our nonprofits’ incredible work through additional articles on our website at a later date.
BY SAM WATERSTONE
The Community Wellness Team (CWT) is a collaboration of 13 health agencies working together to support the wellness of all Santa Barbara County residents in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Many people are dealing with significant stress, anxiety, and isolation, and the CWT is offering resources, support, and virtual connection for those in need.
“Mental health struggles are normal and can happen to anyone. Faced with the anxiety and isolation we are all experiencing, many more of us will struggle,” explained Annmarie Cameron, CEO at the Mental Wellness Center (MWC), one of the agencies actively involved with the CWT. “It’s okay to not be okay, and asking for help is important – support is waiting for you and your family. We’re here for you.”
As it became clear that COVID-19 would seriously impact the health and economic vitality of our communities – thus impacting the mental wellness of its individuals and families – the CWT came together to set up a plan to provide coordinated wellness care throughout the county.
This is not the first time the CWT has launched such a plan to support our community. In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and subsequent 1/9 Debris Flow, strong relationships were formed among the CWT agencies that joined forces to provide emergency and long-term wellness services. As a result, when COVID-19 began impacting our communities, the CWT was ready to respond to the county’s mental health needs.
Central to this response was the implementation of coordinated communication between agencies to direct clients to the organization that specializes in their specific area of need. To ensure there are no gaps in coverage or duplication of efforts, the CWT implemented a daily check-in call between agencies. During these calls, agency representatives share resources and updates with each other, report out on the shifting needs of individuals and families, and discuss best practices for engaging community members who may need support.
The CWT includes a variety of behavioral health organizations, including government agencies, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits who focus on marriage and family therapy, youth mental health, crisis counseling, and more. Local mental health professionals are emphasizing that regardless of what your specifics needs are, there is somebody on the Community Wellness Team who can help.
Community members can contact the Community Wellness Team at (805) 364-2750 for guidance on choosing services, or they can contact organizations directly. The CWT website includes a complete list of agencies involved in the partnership, with the area of focus and contact details for each organization. The website also provides a comprehensive list of mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness resources, such as remote meeting groups and bilingual call centers.
“The social isolation aspect of our health crisis is difficult for anyone to bear,” said Cameron. “For those who live with serious and persistent mental illness, a supportive connection to family, friends and the community is essential to their daily experience. Without that connection, symptoms of illness can increase. Our challenge is to keep the connection intact and offer reassurance and hope. For our community, please remember that you are not alone.”
To learn more about Community Wellness Team and connect to their network of Santa Barbara County wellness organizations, visit: sbccwt.org
To learn more about the Mental Wellness Center and get connected to their services, visit: mentalwellnesscenter.org