PNASD Made History After Successful Completion of Their
First Mental Health Awareness and Resource Fair
By Jay Larrosa, MSN, PHN, RN-BC, ACM-RN, FACDONA
PNASD Chair, Mental Health Advocacy Committee
The Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego County, Inc. (PNASD) made 2022 the year to address matters formally and proactively on mental health. It was back in February of that year when initial conversations took place that PNASO, as a professional nursing organization, would do more regarding the mental health of its members and their members' families, friends, peers, and the community. That very same group is what comprised the PNASD's Mental Health Advocacy (MHA) Committee.
While it is evident that more needs to be done about mental health, it also became apparent very quickly to the committee the challenges they may be facing, especially when it comes to providing the needed mental health resources and services. They realized they would need to focus on what PNASD can accomplish with respect to their capabilities and limitations due to several factors, such as the scope of practice. Not all members specialize or are practicing in the mental health space. To be an effective advocate, resource, and partner for mental health, the committee finalized its mission, vision, and overall goal.
The committee, together with the rest of PNASD continues to be guided by the following: Mission: PNASD advocates for mental health through education, access to resources, and community partnership.
Vision: increased awareness of the importance of acknowledging mental health to the well-being of the individual, families, and community.
Overall Goal: Promote mental health wellness and raise awareness of mental and behavioral disorders by being an advocate and a resource to individuals, families, and the community on accessible, caring and culturally competent services.
Since then, PNASD had accomplished the following:
- Four Part Educational Series: “Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness”, “Living a Mentally Healthy Life: Mental Health on a Personal Level”, Living a Mentally Healthy Life: Mental Health in the Workplace”, and “Mental Health Awareness through Community Partnership”.
- Dedicated Mental Health (MH) Section on PNASD Website that includes but not limited to recorded presentation on MH educational series and corresponding PowerPoint presentations; MH Tools & Resources
- MHA Committee generated a brochure that is being given during community outreach
- MHA Committee Representation by providing expert speakers to events such as during the Philippine Consulate Retreat
This year 2023, PNASD added to their list of accomplishments a free community event, Mental Health Awareness and Resource Fair that was held on May 20, 2023 at Sweetwater High School in National City, CA. During the opening program, Fr. Joselito Tiongson, a military chaplain at NAS North Island officiated the reflection. After the reflection, PNASD President, Perly Aguinaldo, National City Mayor, Ron Morrison, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Behavioral Health Services Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Krelstein and Philippine Medical Association of San Diego, Dr. Renato dela Rosa provided their messages. National City Mayor Ron Morrison spoke about the importance of mental health in National City and the need for the support services available at the mental health fair. Perly shared a personal story on a family member that was affected by mental health. She reminded attendees that help is available and urged them to seek it whenever needed. Dr. Krelstein stated, “Perly mentioned to prioritize ourselves, and there is a need for Call to Action. Everyone’s ultimate responsibility is to increase awareness on mental health and not just PNASD”. The Chair of PNASD’s Mental Health Advocacy Committee, Jay Larrosa officially opened the event. He urged attendees to end the stigma on mental health and to prioritize mental health as we do with our physical health. During the closing program, Associate Director for Mental Health Family Health Centers of San Diego, Dr. Dixie Galapon and PNASD Board of Director, Vivian Sanderlin delivered more important messages. In closing remarks, Ms. Sanderlin emphasized the importance of self-care and being kind to herself/himself and each other, as kindness promotes mental health. She also extended her gratitude to all guest speakers, sponsors, donors and attendees and made a special mention to PNASD members who enjoyed putting the event together. It was amazing to have most the speakers from last year’s four-part mental health education series offering come to the event and continue supporting PNASD on mental healths effort and speaking about the essential subject. The Co-Chair of the PNASD’s Mental Health Advocacy Committee, Brandee Hassell hosted both opening and closing programs.
Attendees also joined any of the free wellness activities offered during the event such as Yoga, Zumba, Art Therapy, massages and Dance the Stress Out. In addition, attendees enjoyed free food and prize giveaways. Resources primarily on mental health was also available to attendees such as those offered by the San Diego County’s Live Well on Wheels (WOW). Vaccination was also offered onsite by Champions for Health. Numerous governmental and private organizations exhibited at the event to share available resources that they can provide the community.
PNASD is grateful to its officers, members, members’ family members, volunteers, guests and to everyone who made the event a success. MHA Committee’s Advisor is Ludy de Perio. In addition, the following subcommittees of the MHA Committee were very instrumental to make sure that PNASD delivered a high-quality event to the community: Budget and Finance, Programs and Activities (Prize Giveaway included), Marketing and Attendance, Hospitality and Registration, and Logistics. PNASD’s Research Committee was also present during the event to conduct a survey and understand the real need of the community members. Of course, Community Outreach Committee was present as well to provide first aid to attendees if needed and the Membership Committee to share with attendees what PNASD is about. Representatives from other PNAA Chapters such as PNAA Orange County and PNAA South Riverside County, were also in attendance.
PNASD accomplished its Mission and Overall Goal regarding mental health and made history after the successful completion of the free community event, Mental Health Awareness and Resource Fair focused on raising awareness and sharing resources on mental health. During the closing program, Jay stated, “If we were able to make a difference on at least one person’s life, then we have accomplished our goal!” This important mental health project is PNASD’s first and will certainly not be the last! Overall, the First PNASD Mental Health Fair was a success, and we hope to have more future events like this to promote mental health.