May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Time to fight the stigma & get the support you or yours might need

By Kay Wenger, Mental Health Clinical Supervisor at Susi Q Senior Center

During May, we hope that we can all take the time to focus a little more inward, making sure that we are giving ourselves the self-care and attention that we need. There are times in our lives when we sense that something isn’t quite right with our thinking, our emotions or our behavior. 

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Kay Wenger

We may even recognize these issues in a loved one. This could indicate we have come to a point where we cannot deal with the stresses or events that have happened in our lives or that we may be experiencing chemical changes in our brain.

Research shows that mental health issues affect as many as one in four people. These issues are always best dealt with in the early stages before they can affect our personal wellbeing, professional or financial lives or personal relationships. 

Many mental health issues can be addressed by talk therapy with a trained professional – however, some issues require medication and more intensive forms of treatment. The social stigma attached to mental health issues has lessened with every year that passes as people come to understand that so many of us are affected and it is not a reflection that we are a defective person. 

As the mental health clinical supervisor at the Susi Q Senior Center, I believe that mental health is something that needs to be discussed in every conversation around health and wellness in our country. 

Susi Q offers support to residents from the age of 50 upwards

If you or someone you know needs additional support because they are going through a difficult time, please know that Laguna Beach Seniors at the Susi Q is here to help. Many think that senior centers only cater to a much-older population. This is not true at all. If you are between 50 to 100+ years old, you can take advantage of the mental health programs that the Susi Q offers – and, the majority are free of charge. 

There’s “Heart to Heart”, a support group where individuals aged 50+ gather weekly to discuss important issues impacting their lives. 

The Susi Q also facilitates a Grief Recovery support group; Living Well with Chronic Illness support group; a Men’s Only group; Alzheimer’s and Dementia support group, and a discussion group addressing end-of-life issues -- Death Café. 

Finally, and with special thanks to a generous Mission Hospital Community Benefit’s Grant of $15,000 annually since 2016, the Susi Q provides one-on-one counseling for at-risk and vulnerable seniors throughout all of South Orange County by way of our “Feeling The Blues” program. 

Click here for the dates and times of these resources. 

For more information, please reach out to our care management team by visiting the Susi Q front desk, or by calling (949) 715-8104.

Located at 380 Third Street, Laguna Beach Seniors has been enhancing the lives of seniors for over 40 years. Mental health support, care management, recreational and educational classes, activities and events are available and designed for local seniors to promote independence, wellness and community. 

The Susi Q also is the heart of an ambitious vision called Lifelong Laguna: a community and a nonprofit working together to make the town we love a better place for the rest of our lives. For more information, visit www.thesusiq.org.

Kay Wenger, MA, LMFT, LPCC, is the clinical supervisor for Laguna Beach Seniors mental health programming. Kay and her husband Robert have been residents of Laguna Beach for 25 years. In addition to her private practice, Kay is actively involved with training new therapists through her 28 years as Manager of M.A. Clinical Training and Professional Development at Pepperdine University.

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