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Mental health program for immigrants

 July 14, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, July 14th.

A Mental health program for immigrants.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


City of San Diego police officers are now required to get a warrant to hold onto or search a seized cell phone.

The new policy, announced yesterday (Wednesday) is the result of a lawsuit settlement.

The lawsuit alleged that when San Diego police arrested Christina Griffin-Jones at a protest in 2020, they seized her phone and refused to return it for several months after.


Starting today (Thursday), three neighborhood parks will be transformed into community festivals every weekend evening this summer.

The "Parks After Dark" program aims to improve youth mental health, and is based on a similar program in L.A.

The San Diego festivals will be held at the City Heights, Linda Vista and Skyline Hills Recreation Centers.

They’re every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, from six to nine p-m.

There will be live entertainment, activities for all ages, games and free meals for kids.


When you think of a basketball court, you think of an arena or maybe an outdoor court at a park.

But this Veterans Day, two college basketball teams will be making the top of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier their court.

Gonzaga University and Michigan State will be going head-to-head at the 2022 Armed Forces Classic game on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln at Naval Air Station North Island on November 11th.

Both of the team’s head coaches said it will be an honor to play in front of our country’s men and women in uniform.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


San Diego Health officials are monitoring a global monkeypox outbreak..

Here in San Diego County, six travel-related cases have been reported as of Friday.

And there’s no evidence of community spread.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

Just like COVID, monkeypox can infect anyone in San Diego County-- Nationwide the CDC reports gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have made up majority of early cases. But officials stress anyone who comes in close contact, sexual or otherwise, with someone who has monkeypox can be infected.. Ahead of pride weekend county health officials are offering monkeypox vaccines to those considered at high risk. County deputy public health officer Dr. Ankita Kadakia says 600 appointments were made available and all were quickly filled– Kadakia This was not a decision that was made solely by the county it was done in collaboration with LGBTQ community leaders Dr. Ankita Kadakia, San Diego deputy public health officer I want to be very clear this is not a disease of gay men or bisexual indivuals or transgender individuals. This is a disease that we just happen to see spreading currently The illness spreads through close contact and can cause rashes or flu-like symptoms but most people don’t need to be hospitalized. MH KPBS News


And now for a first hand account.

Clark Marino received his monkeypox diagnosis on Tuesday. That will bring the local case count to 7.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen spoke with Marino about his experience.

Here’s that interview.

Andrew: I wish you a speedy full recovery.

Clark: Thank you so much, Andrew.

That was Clark Marino speaking with KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen.


Coming up.... San Diego hotel employees may strike. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

In the middle of the busy tourist season, workers at a major downtown San Diego hotel are getting ready to take a strike vote.

They rallied at City Hall yesterday (Wednesday)… and KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says they got some support from local leaders.

Noemi Ponce has been a housekeeper at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront for nine years. She and other unionized workers are demanding what they say is a fair contract.“We shouldn't have to work multiple jobs just to get by.” The workers from Unite Here Local 30 were joined by San Diego mayor Todd Gloria, who says his own mother used to clean hotels. He says hotel workers are often a visitor’s first impression of the city. “Those visitors to this city leave behind tax revenue that we use to pave roads, pay police officers and firefighters and keep our libraries and parks open.” The union plans a strike authorization vote at the end of this week. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


San Diegans will be getting a notice with their water bills… alerting them of a public hearing about a proposed increase in their water rates.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has details.

Lisa Celaya the assistant executive director for the city’s public utilities department, said they are simply passing on the increase they are seeing from the San Diego County Water Authority We understand the impact of rate increases on our customers, especially on our most vulnerable, during these times Lisa Marie Harris, the finance director and treasurer with the San Diego County Water Authority, says they are paying higher costs for water and energy. She says they’ve already tapped into their reserves to offset those costs. If they hadn’t, customers would be seeing double-digit increases. It’s critical, that we not only have a reliable source of water but that we also have an affordable source of water The public hearing will be held in September. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News.


A free mental health program is improving the lives of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in San Diego.

KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere says the program has been effective… and is now serving as a role model across the country.

Nyaduoth Gatkuoth is the daughter of refugees… from South Sudan who was looking for help and a support system in San Diego. She found it in a group called “Girl Talk.” Nyaduoth Gatkuoth | Program Participant “Having Girl Talk, it's kind of just like … I don't necessarily go to a therapist but that's kind of like my therapy in a sense.” The monthly support group is designed for South Sudanese women. Nyaduoth Gatkuoth | Program Participant “These are women who I see myself in. So it's basically kind of like a mirrored experience when I am in that space. I see people who are me and I’m able to empathize with what they're going through and sympathize as well.” “Girl Talk” is organized by United Women of East Africa, or UWEAST. Sympathy and empathy are just part of what’s offered. Nyaduoth Gatkuoth | Program Participant “They talk about housing issues, they talk about food insecurity issues, and so on and so forth. And so what I think this program has done: it’s expanded what mental health means.” UW EAST is one of several agencies in the San Diego Refugee Coalition’s Behavioral Health Initiative. It’s the first peer-based, non-clinical mental health program to provide free, specialized services for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The program’s counselors speak 13 different languages and are all refugees or immigrants themselves. Dilkwhaz Ahmed | License to Freedom CEO “People feel comfortable to talk to somebody who can understand the culture, who speaks their languages.” Dilkwhaz Ahmed is the CEO of License to Freedom, an organization that’s taken the lead on providing mental health services to refugees in San Diego. In the past year alone, the behavioral health initiative has helped over 2,000 people. But stigmas around finding help are still very prevalent in the communities these groups serve. Promised Land is with the Karen (Kuh-ren) Organization of San Diego. Promised Land | Karen Organization of San Diego “For our parents and our old generation, they never really get to really think about their mental health when they were in refugee camps. They really think about survival and stuff. So it's a new thing, you know you move here to the United States and then it's a different battle … fighting mentally.” Behavioral Health Specialist Nyamal Wal counsels refugees and facilitates the “Girl Talk” support group. Nyamal Wal | Behavioral Health Specialist “I think they’re assimilating everyday, and even though a lot of refugees from South Sudan have been here since the early 90s, it's still like an everyday struggle for them.” The initiative offers one-on-one counseling, educational workshops and essential resource navigation. Nyamal Wal | Behavioral Health Specialist “On a weekly basis, I can meet with anyone. I can meet with older adults who don't really speak much English and I can meet with young women and just help counsel them, and talk about anything.” And those talks are making a difference for young women like Gatkuoth. Nyaduoth Gatkuoth | Program Participant “I lost a sister earlier this year, and so just having that space to be able to talk about what I’m experiencing. And having other Southern Sudanese individuals who have lost siblings or have lost somebody close to them, and having that safe space to be able to speak about what you're going through, and just having people with that shared experience … it means a lot and it's very important to me.” Wal says the Girl Talk model is starting to grow, and more Southern Sudanese women across the U.S. are coming together to talk about their mental health. Nyamal Wal | Behavioral Health Specialist “We’ve been able to expand Girl Talk to other states outside of California. There’s mostly South Sudanese in the midwest - so like Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota. So we’ve been able to reach out to more young women.” And Ahmed… at License to Freedom … says that’s just what they want to see for the Behavioral Health Initiative. Dilkwhaz Ahmed | License to Freedom CEO “Other organizations can come and take some of the lessons of what works and why this program is successful ... it's because it came from the people themselves.” For those worried about seeking help, Gatkuoth has a message. Nyaduoth Gatkuoth | Program Participant “No matter how small your issue is, just reach out. Tell somebody and there’s always somebody willing to give you an open ear, and with open hearts to be able to accept whatever you're saying, but also be able to help you with whatever you're going through.” The Behavioral Health Initiative’s services are free, and people looking for help can learn more at San Diego refugee communities dot org. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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A mental health program is improving the lives of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in San Diego. Meanwhile, a San Diegan with monkeypox talks about his experience with the virus. Plus, local hotel workers may go on strike soon.