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South Bay leaders highlight women’s mental health care

May is mental health awareness month and a South Bay health organization is shining the spotlight on care for women. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere explains.

“I love sharing with people that I go to therapy every Monday at 8:30 at night,” San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas said Monday at an event to spotlight mental health services.

She is helping to break the stigma surrounding mental health treatment in South Bay communities by talking about how it's improved her own life.

“Mental health care is health care,” Vargas said. “And the only way I can be healthy is to make sure I’m taking care of myself all around. I’m running again, I’m doing all this other stuff, but my mental health has to be okay.”

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Jacob Aere
A group of community health leaders gather inside of Northgate Gonzalez Market in Chula Vista, May 23, 2022.

Monday's event was held at Northgate Gonzalez Market in Chula Vista, and included representatives from the county’s Health & Human Services Agency. Their aim was to bring awareness of behavioral health resources and support services for women.

“If we don't talk about it as a community, our communities are never going to think it’s normal. And so, we have to beat that stigma,” Vargas said.

The event didn’t just focus on mental health. It also included free mammograms.

San Ysidro Health patient Mary Beth Viruete shared her first-hand experience battling breast cancer — without health insurance. Just a few weeks ago, she got great news.

“I was told that I was in remission, that I'm cancer free,” Viruete said. “The journey that I am happy to call history is something that started with San Ysidro Women’s Health Clinic.”

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Jacob Aere
A group of community health leaders gather inside of Northgate Gonzalez Market in Chula Vista, May 23, 2022.

San Ysidro Health’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer Dr. Gaurav Mishra said those who don't have health care coverage or legal documentation status can still receive mental health care.

“If they’re uninsured that is not a barrier for anybody to get care. We are able to register and provide care to patients who are uninsured,” Mishra said. “We are also able to register and provide care to patients who are undocumented. So that is not a barrier.”

Mishra said San Ysidro Health offers clinic discounts based on different income levels.

He said people can call the organization to learn more information and speak with a mental health professional.