The Community Mental Health Movement in America began in the 1960’s
as a grass roots effort to meet the different needs of evolving regions.
Midwest, workshops were provided to lessen the stress of
unemployment, manage life adjustment issues, and to beat the ‘holiday
blues’. In the Southeast and
larger Metropolitan Cities of the East and West Coasts, Community
Mental Health Centers (CMHC) focused on diversity issues and teen
pregnancy. While in the
far Southwest, CMHC worked with Native American Populations on
economic oppression and the impact of tribal segregation.
What do all of these have in common? They reflect awareness of
society’s effects on every member of a community. They possess a shared
clients as whole persons with a range of personal strengths,
resources and limitations. CMHC reflect a desire to prevent debilitating
problems in schools
and communities. They strive to understand unique needs from diverse
cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Lastly, CMHC’s strive to
empower people and
communities in order to become strengthened when counselors’ help
clients learn ways to help themselves.
Imagine a snowball, cold and wet and compacted between your hands.
Now, imagine that you roll that same snowball down a mountain. As the
rolling down the mountain, it begins to gather more speed. It also
gets much larger, as more snow is packed onto its surface. By the time
reaches the bottom of the mountain, it is no longer small, fluffy,
and innocent. Instead, it is quite large and possibly dangerous. That is
what has and is
happening in communities across America. From political unease,
sexism, racism, domestic violence, addiction, and other mental health
Mental Health Centers have evolved to help communities that are
suffering from psychological or social discord.
So how are Community Mental Health Centers meeting this challenge?
What does it take to be a community counselor (CC)? Community Counselors
excellent communication and leadership qualities. These counseling
professionals connect with and better understand the problems and causes
that some communities may face. Leadership skills are important,
because they help community members feel more trusting and willing to
follow the advice of
The assumptions of CC’s are that environments nurture or limit the
people in them. To nurture a community they must be positive, rich in
learn, supportive, and offer opportunities to interact in a positive
way with each other. Negative environments limit the member’s
development and stunt
their growth. Therefore, is not enough to counsel individuals; to
promote well-being we must influence contexts where they live.
The goals of CC are to facilitate individual and community
empowerment in a multifaceted way. This is a NEW VISION à we play
multiple roles with
multifaceted and culturally sensitive approach; a multifaceted
approach is more efficient than any single-service approach can be. This
approach focuses on:
• Group counseling
• Psychoeducational interventions
• Alternative strategies
• Make changes in environment to foster well-being
• Counselor is an architect to structure opportunities (within bounds of culture)
Ultimately, prevention is more efficient that remediation and with
the Multicultural nature of development central to planning and delivery
today’s Community Mental Health Centers and Counselors are having a
direct positive impact on their environment.
Dr. Joy Guinn Shabandar
Dr. Joy Guinn Shabandar is the Department Chair for the College of
Counseling, Psychology and Social Science at Argosy University Los
She has a Private Practice in Yorba Linda, CA. Dr. Shabandar is
dually licensed as a LPCC Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor &
Alcohol and Drug Counselor .
Feel free to contact her at email@example.com or YLPsychServices@gmail.com
The information and opinions expressed herein represent the
independent opinions and ideas of Dr. Joy Guinn Shabandar and do not
represent the opinions and
ideas of Argosy University.