Caitlin Hernandez / Courier A photo from the personal counseling department in D-203 at Pasadena City College on Thursday, February 6, 2020.
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Pasadena City College will expand its array of mental health services to students after being awarded a $400,000 grant, according to the December College Council meeting.

The grant is funded through Proposition 63, a mental health services act which aims to administer funds to support county mental health programs throughout California. The grant will be applied over a 20 month period, starting May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

The personal counseling department’s Dr. Jason Vasquez, Dr. Quinn Tang and Dr. Marcos Briano have collaborated with fellow staff members regarding plans for the handling of the grant funds. Numerous new ventures have been discussed thus far, including increased employment and educational programs. 

“There’s a variety of ways in which we’re hoping to be able to utilize these funds,” said Vasquez, a psychologist in the department. “One is to expand staff. Secondly, we’re hoping to expand psychiatric services through student health. Third, we’re looking at prevention activities, so doing suicide prevention training for not only students but also faculty and staff on campus.”

The personal counseling department has been around at PCC since 1950 and offers short-term counseling in both individual or group settings. For faculty members, the goal is to assist all students based on both mental issues and their physical needs.

“As an integrative practitioner we look at the person as a whole, and not just fragments,” said Tang, the Director of Student Health and Wellness. “We have to look at other elements which contributed to the pain in the case of mental-behavioral health. So we have to look at what affects the person psycho-socially, emotionally, and how that manifests physically.” 

Discussions on implementing various, innovative mental health strategies have also emerged.

“[We’ve talked of] offering more holistic services, whether it’s yoga, meditation, things of that nature,” Vasquez said. “The hope is to have practitioners or providers who are well-versed to be able to offer complementary services here.”

The grant serves as an opportunity for the office to continue to help PCC students thrive through mental health maintenance, a topic that faculty members hope will continue to expand in popularity. 

“It’s really an area that’s under served,” said Briano, an Adjunct Faculty Personal Counselor. “To break the stigma that’s out there for mental services and actually have a place where students can have a voice [is important] because they usually hold that in and they don’t have anyone to talk to about that.”

Currently, the personal counseling department offers walk-in or appointments for free, short-term therapy and other services in room D-203. For more information on their opening hours for spring semester, click here.

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