Wellness Center Strives to Reduce Stigma of Mental Health


Photo by: Paulina Rodriguez Ruiz

Participants at a workout class at the Holistic Cultural and Educational Wellness Center in Fresno,CA on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018.

The Holistic Cultural & Education Wellness Center, a non-profit organization based in Fresno, is working to destigmatize and connect members from various cultural backgrounds to mental health resources.

“Often times the stigma associated with seeking mental health options is difficult to overcome,” said Devoya Mayo, cultural broker and curriculum trainer of the Fresno Center.

The HCEWC is funded by the Fresno County’s Department of Behavioral Health through the Mental Health Services Act’s Prop 63, which provides funding for minorities and immigrants.

All of the educational and health services are free and open to the public and take place at 4879 E. Kings Canyon Road in Fresno.

The HCEWC assists these vulnerable individuals regardless of race, age, sex, or socioeconomic background in becoming self-reliant, and focuses on teaching life skills through a holistic approach.

One of the main focuses of the HCEWC is promoting and encouraging a receptive community that is understanding and sensitive to the diverse and unique traits of other cultures, thus allowing room for a cohesive populace where everyone can thrive, feel a sense of inclusion, and merily coexist.

“By creating healthy options that speak to the whole person,” Mayo said, “we’re able to provide less intrusive options and introduce mental wellness messaging and programming that helps individuals to live a full life, mind, body and spirit,”

These services include mindful body movement classes such as Yoga, Zumba, Tae Kwon Do; Support groups such as Sikh Spiritual Healing talks, LGBTQ Support groups, and Coffee chats; activities such as meditation, free meal distribution provided by the Community Food Bank, literacy and etiquette classes; complementary healing practices such as naturopathy, herbal remedies, and art/music therapy; and mental health training such as intro to mental health disorders and mental health first aid.

“There is already a stigma in talking openly about mental health,” said Raheel Mohammed, director of Maslaha, an organization that seeks to help disadvantaged groups. “But in many Asian communities, there is an added stigma. Depression is often seen as a western illness and sometimes people view it as a test of faith rather than a medical condition.”

A second center, located next to the the HCEWC, known as the Fresno Center, offers immigration services such as applying for a green card, passport, (Medi-Cal), access to food, shelter, and housing.

Mayo said, “We provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education, training, workshops, programming and linkage services to underserved individuals and families who may not typically seek traditional Western (clinically based) mental health services.”