Approach to programming
California Reducing Disparity Project is a community-based program that uses Strength Based Case Management. CRDP aim is to demonstrate the effectiveness of culture-specific outreach techniques and interventions centered on shifting cultural norms about mental illness to prevent and improve mental health among Cambodians.
The proposed API/SBCWP is a Direct PEI Program that will prevent mental illnesses from becoming severe and disabling by facilitating the earliest possible access to services and supports. As such, this program supports the CRDP’s statewide strategic plan by increasing access to mental health services for the underserved API community.
CRDP increased life management skills by educating about the stigma of mental health, increase the ability to use positive coping mechanisms to cope and make healthy decisions. The program content is based on the Social Cognitive Change Theories and uplifts values relevant to the Cambodian culture.
The Community Wellness Program (CWP) was developed by a collaborative of five nonprofit agencies dedicated to health, human, and social service providers in the greater Long Beach area and Santa Ana, California. The collaborative is made up of the Cambodian Association of America (CAA), Families in Good Health (FiGH), Khmer Parents Association (KPA), The Cambodian Family (TCF), and United Cambodian Community (UCC). The collaborative recognizes that Cambodian mental health challenges have become multigenerational, extending past the elders who were refugees of the Khmer Rouge genocide to the youth who are American-born citizens. Rates of mental illness such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety are disproportionately higher among Cambodians, and culturally-appropriate mental health services to meet the Cambodian population’s needs in Long Beach and Santa Ana are lacking.
The Community Wellness Program (CWP) is a PEI CDEP model that promotes mental wellness through prevention and early intervention by providing a culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health wellness program in the Greater Long Beach and Santa Ana areas. The CWP strategies follow a strength-based model to increase an individual’s ability to cope with mental health issues, make healthy decisions, and life management skills that will empower the participants’ capacity to access services on his or her own. The CWP has four components that are designed based on the needs and input of Cambodian residents.
The CDEP strategy components include:
1) Outreach and Engagement to address the stigma around mental illness,
2) Case Management/Navigation/Referral Services to help participants access health and social services,
3) Educational Workshops to increase knowledge about mental health and risk factors for mental illness, and
4) Peer/Family/Social Support Groups to increase social support and decrease social isolation. The Peer/Family/Social Support Groups activities designed to incorporate a) the Cambodian cultural and holistic practices such as therapeutic meditation and Buddhist water blessing ceremony to promote spiritual wellness; b) Recreational and physical activities (Tai Chi, yoga, walking, gardening, beach walk, and recreational field trips) that affect not only physical stamina and wellness but also mental and emotional wellbeing; and c) Therapeutic Art/Craft/Music & Dance Classes that will help to stimulate creative processes to give voice to and work to resolve internal conflicts, address problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, achieve insight, and increase social interactions.
Our educational workshops are designed to reflect the Cambodian culture, such that the workshop on Healthy Nutrition includes Cambodian foods and contains culturally appealing visuals. All CWP activities are organized and led by bilingual and bicultural Cambodian Community Health Workers (CHWs), who share the same migration and resettlement history as program participants.
The CWP is based on the nationally acknowledged Community Health Workers model. The six-month program has two primary goals:
Goal #1: To reduce health and mental health disparities among Cambodians and;
Goal #2: To test and validate a community defined practice model that can be used in Long Beach and Orange County and an opportunity to replicate in other cities.
The collaboration and help of CHWs developed a community-friendly framework to introduce the CWP to the community. The model is a Venn diagram with a wellness heart in the center. It represents overall wellness through three major components; physical, social, and emotional. These components are highlighted in the CWP curriculum at various times through the workshops and defined as followed:
A. Physical wellness is a state of physical wellbeing in which a person is physically fit to perform his/her daily activities.
B. Emotional wellness is a state of positive psychological functioning. It can be thought of as an extension of mental health and behaviors that make up both our inner and outer worlds.
C. Social wellness is the feeling or experience of having others who love and care for you, who you can turn to for help in times of need. Support may come in financial or material assistance or a friend who listens or gives advice.
Who We Are
Ms Sotheavottey Soeung, Program Coordinator
Mr Virak Ung, Community Health Worker
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, all in-person services were postponed, limited, or shifted to online platforms. This creates a vast, unprecedented challenge for every one of us. The impact is even more significant for our senior participants who may feel frustrated and isolated, resulting in increased stress and anxiety. CHWs continue to serve the CWP participants by phone calls and video chats. Group video calls have become a new way to prevent our participants from feeling disconnected or isolated during this stressful time. They offer the participants opportunities to remotely meet each other, share personal experiences and feelings, and learn some tips for dealing with stress and anxiety. In addition to the online social support group, educational workshops, CHWs hold weekly Civic and ESL classes, which are their learning sessions and their occasions to socialize. These activities could help the participants maintain their social connections and care for their mental health.
Despite the challenges amid the ongoing pandemic, our CHWs were able to reach out to the community members and recruited 20 new participants for CWP. In November, the team of CHWs will conduct as many program activities (i.e. educational workshops, yoga, meditation, art & craft, music & dance, storytelling, and cooking classes) as possible for the participants to help improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. The team will arrange for those who prefer attending the classes and other events in person by following safety precautions such as sanitation, requiring face mask/face covering, and keeping physical distancing. CHWs will also continue to engage the rest of the participants remotely by phone and using Messenger or Messenger Room for virtual classrooms, workshops, and social support groups, helping maintain their social connections during this stressful time.