Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Mental Wellness Movement is Real and Local – How You Can Support Coronado’s Youth & Families

Coronado may be picture-perfect and largely affluent, but giving back is every bit as impactful in our community as it is anywhere else in the country. And because our interactions take place on an island, making a difference is all the more rewarding, with results you can see and connection you can feel.

Our community is not without need. Coronado is more financially diverse than it might seem on the surface. Additionally, those who live here share many of the same mental health concerns as others regionally and nationally. It may be hard to imagine, but affluence doesn’t protect youth or mental health. Dr. Suniya Luthar’s studies found that youth in affluent families are among the most emotionally distressed young people in America. She explains, “These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic but there’s contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting.”

Reflecting on his work as a psychiatrist at San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital for the past decade, Dr. Benjamin Maxwell said, “The number of patients we once saw in a month, we now might see in a day.” Statistics on youth mental health issues in America are dramatically increasing and Coronado’s youth are not exempt. The 2020 California Healthy Kids Survey asked the 11th grade class of Coronado High School, “During the past 12 months, did you ever seriously consider suicide?” 21% of students answered, “yes.”

Alarm and anguish can turn into hope and strength when youth and families have a safe place to become the best versions of themselves. “I often hear from the youth I work with, ‘I’ve never told anyone this before,’ or, ‘This is the one place I can talk about this,’” said Julie Lai, AMFT and therapist at Safe Harbor Coronado. “Our goal is to remove barriers, cultivate hope, and empower youth and families to be resilient and thrive.”

With 84% of counseling clients qualifying for reduced fees due to financial hardship, Safe Harbor Coronado can offer a place for youth to feel understood and empowered. This is due to the generosity of community members who donate. Safe Harbor fills a critical gap as the only nonprofit in town that provides low-cost counseling on a sliding scale, assuring that no one is turned away for financial reasons. “Many parents tell me they sought help dozens of places, only to find availability months away,” Lai said. “Sessions can run hundreds of dollars, and many cannot afford it. We often hear a sigh of relief when we tell them what we can offer.”

The pandemic has had a serious and widely documented effect on everyone’s emotional wellbeing, with youth feeling many of the most upsetting impacts. Mental Health America reports that throughout the pandemic, youth ages 11–17 were more likely than any other age group to show signs of moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. Many young people can be dealing with multiple battles at once. Issues ranging from how they identify to struggles within the family, social media, peer pressure, school, future aspirations, and political tension can all add to daily stress levels. Predictively, the transition out of the pandemic has been equally difficult in adapting to a new normal.

Whether for counseling, a parenting workshop or community education, Safe Harbor works proactively to reach those struggling before they enter crisis mode. As one parent said after a workshop, “I felt like I tried everything. I was tired and burned out. Safe Harbor gave me the tools to feel refreshed and confident.”

If you, or someone you know needs support on your wellness journey, contact Safe Harbor today.

You can be a part of the mental wellness movement locally. This holiday season, will you help transform the lives of youth and families in Coronado? To donate, visit; call 619-522-6884; or send a check to Safe Harbor Coronado, 1009 C Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118. Don’t forget to sign up for our eNewsletter on our website, and follow us on social media @SafeHarborCoronado. Let’s navigate life together.


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