Church to host mental health presentations

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News release 

First Presbyterian Church of Newhall is holding a series of monthly educational presentations on mental health issues facing the Santa Clarita community.  

Living daily with the COVID pandemic and shutdowns has made health providers and ordinary individuals aware of the fragility of people’s mental health, and this has brought the mental health crisis in our country to the attention of many, said a news release from the church.  

Jack Irwin, a local resident and elder at the First Presbyterian Church, has been working with committees at the church and with Santa Clarita Valley organizations for ways to offer educational presentations on mental health.  

First Presbyterian Church is partnering with local organizations to bring health experts to offer monthly educational presentations on many of the mental health problems facing the SCV community, the release said. 

The first series will be offered this fall on Sundays, Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec. 3. The church committee has identified three areas of mental health to present to the community. The church is collaborating with the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department, which will provide speakers for these educational presentations. 

The release provided the following summaries of the presentations: 

• Oct. 1: “Emotional Wellbeing and Stress,” with presenter Jacqueline Diaz, a community health worker with the Department of Mental Health. Stress is a normal part of life; this program will help people identify stressors in their lives and recognize “good” stress from “bad” stress. It will discuss the impacts of stress on the mind, the body, emotions and behavior. It will share ways to cope with stress and foster a sense of well-being that creates resilience in dealing with the various types of stress we experience in our lives. The presentation will also share resources for those who need to explore this topic personally.  

• Nov. 5: “Grief and Loss” with Diaz again presenting. Grief is a response to any kind of loss, whether death or separation, by moving, by loss of employment and other types of losses. The presentation will discuss responses to loss by adults and by children, reviewing the mental, physical, behavioral and spiritual reactions to loss. Self-help will be discussed — how to recognize grief, how to handle grief and learn from it, and how to develop resilience to the experience of grief to maintain one’s sense of well-being. The presentation will also share resources for those who need to explore this topic personally.  

• Dec. 3: “Social Isolation and Loneliness” with presenter Dr. Haydeh Fakhrabadi, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Mental Health. The presentation topic is in line with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s May 3 “Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” in the U.S. Recent contributors to these problems include the divisions of people, social media, the COVID pandemic and shutdowns of gatherings at work, churches, schools, restaurants and other places of assembly. Additionally, the presentation will discuss other contributors to isolation, such as depression, retirement, low self-esteem, loss of friends and more. Signs of isolation and loneliness will also be explained. The impacts on mental and physical health will be highlighted as well as the necessity of social connections for stable physical and mental health and general well-being. Self-help suggestions will be provided for ways to overcome isolation and to establish connections. The presentation will also share resources for those who need to explore this topic personally.  

These fall presentations will be held on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church, located at 24317 Newhall Ave., Newhall. The programs will be held in the Evans Room, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The community is invited to these presentations, which are not part of the church’s worship service, held earlier from 9 to 10 a.m. Parking is available in the church parking lot, behind the church, accessed from 8th Street or Market Street. 

The Church Committee planning these presentations looks forward to announcing additional monthly presentations starting in January.  

“This is an evolving program,” Irwin said in the release. “We are just starting out. We do not know all that the community needs.”  

Future presentations might include such subjects as Alzheimer’s, dementia, anxiety and fear, anger, and depression, the release said.  

Irwin added that suicide and the fentanyl epidemic are very hot topics. “We especially want a mental health expert to speak on these subjects.”  

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