By H. Gerson Jones
Contributing Writer

San Diego – Several hundred parishioners and residents joined mental health providers at the Nu-Way International Christian Ministries on Sunday, March 30 to gain a better understanding about mental wellness and professional mental health support resources that are available in and near Southeast San Diego.

Dr. Steve O. Cooper, pastor of Nu Way felt it important that mental health imbalances can occur to everyone. “Knowing what resources were available is an important step in assuring access to care and reliable follow-through.” The Friends and Family Day also provided the attendees the opportunity to interface directly with mental health providers. This access and relationship building provided the opportunity to interface directly with them – in lieu of the morning worship.

Pastor Cooper also felt it important that the community fight the stigma against mental health. He and others stressed the importance of approaching mental disorder with the same attitude that is aroused when there is physical pain.

“Covered California health insurance chosen by San Diegans under Obamacare now provides access to mental health services. Newly insured consumers should seek out and use these mental health specialists, in the same manner that physical health physicians are used”.

The keynote address was provided by Rudy Johnson, President and CEO of the Neighborhood House Association (NHA). Mr. Johnson announced that this is the 100th Anniversary of NMA providing services to its constituents. He spoke about the long-standing commitment to mental health support that the NHA provides to the community of Southeast San Diego. “NHA has provided mental health support through Project Enable at 286 Euclid Avenue for the last 25 years.” He also stressed the importance of giving back to the community and having risen to the point of being CEO of Neighborhood House Association – a path which started with him having grown up in Southeast San Diego.

Many mental health providers made presentations at the church, as Pastor Cooper’s was a guidepost for the erosion of the stigma associated with mental health. Lieutenant Debra Farror spoke from the vantage point of the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team. She stressed the importance of reaching out to their members to obtain a balanced picture of possibilities to address mental wellness.

Albert Daniel spoke about Harmonious Solutions and stressed the importance of having resources on the group, in community, “where they belong”. The session then provided an opportunity for consumers to interface directly with the mental health resources. Food and clothing was also donated to the needy.