WRC Clients had a Ball at the Oakland A's Game

The Wellness Recovery Center is privileged and grateful for being able to take clients to an Oakland A’s vs. Anaheim Angels Baseball game on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017.

The WRC clients had a lot of fun eating cotton candy and tuna fish sandwiches from their lunch that day at the WRC. 

They are looking forward to additional games and other entertainment events, which are provided at no cost to clients. The pictures below were taken during the game at the Oakland Coliseum. 

'15-'16 Client Satisfaction Surveys

We are pleased to share the results of client satisfaction surveys from 2015-2016. These numbers show how dedicated our staff has been in progressing Caminar's mission, which is to help people with disabilities live in the community with dignity and independence. 

WRC Clients Visit the Empress Theater

Clients from The Wellness Recovery Center were able to go to the Empress Theater and experience live music for free on February 22nd, 2017.

The Empress Theatre is a historical landmark located in downtown Vallejo, California built in 1911.

This visit is part of the ongoing efforts of the WRC to provide clients with experiences that they may not otherwise be able to receive due to economic circumstances. 

Please enjoy the images below, which were taken at the event.

WRC Clients Visit Academy of Arts Sciences Museum

The Wellness Recovery Center was able to participate and go to the Academy of Arts Museum for FREE on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017, thanks to collaborating with C.A.T.S (Consumer Access Tickets), a non-profit organization.

Ken Langill, Program Coordinator, is proud to share that he took 4 WRC clients to the Academy of Art Sciences Museum to see the Steinhardt Aquarium, Phillipines Coral Reef, African Exhibit and also the Planetarium. 

This visit is part of the ongoing efforts of the WRC to provide clients with experiences that they may not otherwise be able to receive due to economic circumstances. 

Solano Region Christmas Party at the WRC

The Solano Region Christmas Party at the WRC was a blast!

"Our friend and advocate of Caminar’s Wellness Recovery Center graced us with his visit to our Xmas party. We had well over 100 plus people which comprised of WRC Staff / Clients / Case Managers and Mental Health Specialists from Solano County Mental Health as well as board and care and room and board operators." Kenneth Langill, Program Coordinator, WRC.

Here are some photos from this very fun event.

Teen Suicide

The word suicide is a frightening word. But the term teen suicide is even more horrific, with the mental picture of a young person terminating his/her own life.  

As a result of having an unusual rash of teen suicides (many more than the average) in the Bay Area, a Federal investigation is now underway, conducting interviews with school personnel, faculty, family members and, of course, students and peers. Their sole goal is to gain knowledge to eliminate these tragedies from reoccurring and trying to find long-term solutions.

When a young person dies by suicide, both the immediate survivors and many others are deeply affected. In fact, exposure to suicide can itself be a suicide risk to other young people.  “Cluster” suicides may actually have been the main factor in these recent youth suicides. If someone is contemplating ending their life and hear of another young person taking his/her life, it can exacerbate an already despairing mood.

“Pact” suicide is another ominous, but secretive deliberation, whereas several teens (usually girls) carefully plan and execute their own suicides. Somehow, they view it as glamorous and prepare, carefully, in writing and in sharing their suicide notes. Recently, in the New York City area, four girls jumped off a building to their deaths holding hands while someone is the background was taking pictures. How tragic is this?


It is critical, therefore, to find answers and ways to reach this populace and prevent these catastrophic occurrences.

Caminar for Mental Health takes an holistic approach, recognizing the role of the environment, relationships and what peer pressure plays, as well as limited life experience, when helping a younger person grapple with the powerful emotions behind thoughts of suicide. They are totally committed to doing whatever it takes to save someone’s life. When one of their clients at Caminar cannot hold onto hope for themselves, the staff’s job is to hold on to hope for the client for as long as necessary and to never give up.

The causes of teen suicides are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors: bullying, poor self-image, individual coping skills, family and school social support, use and/or experimentation with substances, academic stress, undisclosed mental health conditions and excessive expectations from parents and self.

Teens, too, are going through puberty and are in the process of pulling away from the parental structure in learning to be independent and finding out whom they really are. Unfortunately, teens, also, are vulnerable to depression. That’s because hormones and sleep cycles, which both change dramatically during adolescence, can affect mood. The good news is that depression is treatable and most teens get better with the right help.

It’s balancing act for the clinician who works with young clients at Caminar to empathize with the person’s pain, acknowledging and normalizing this human emotion and to then start working on a safety plan with that youth in identifying their own personal strengths and their own reasons to want to live. It is crucial that this plan is created by and for that individual client.

Sexual issues, too, for teens can be a difficult time of uncertainty, confusion and fear, with their primary confidential conversations being only with their peers, who, for the most part, probably also have little knowledge.  At home, their main conversation from a parent is most likely: “How was school today?” “Oh fine,” says the teen, and off they go to their room to text or e-mail.

Although technology has given us tremendous tools to learn, to connect, to inquire, it also has created obstacles in the way we socialize, especially with the younger generation. Seldom do we have face-to-face conversations anymore. Most young people are looking down at their phone or tablet – never having an eye-to-eye contact and not verbally sharing, or even laughing. Are we missing something valuable and healthy for our own well-being?

The media, especially in the daily news, seems only to cover violent, scary and murderous stories, creating a “gloom and doom” atmosphere that can greatly intensify despairing feelings for a youth, or anyone, who is feeling on the edge.

From one teenage suicide attempt survivor: “I was upper-middle-class — probably the wealthiest of my whole friends group — and went to private school and went to summer camps in the summer. I had everything tangible. We had a nice house. I had a boyfriend. Had lots of friends. And, I just didn’t care about any of it. I felt so alone. Now thanks to counseling and therapy I am doing much better. I know for a fact suicide is not the only answer left; there are other choices. IT DOES GET BETTER! Life gets better! For those out there who are thinking about suicide and that it is the only way out, I know you won’t believe me and that’s okay. Try to talk about how you’re feeling. Try someone you trust and if that person turns away, take a deep breath and tell someone else. Talk and tell until it does feel a little bit better. Help is out there. I know you can find it. You are a beautiful, unique, special creative person who deserves to be loved, cherished and respected.”

We must create opportunities to really talk, to share, to confide, to trust. This is very needed and maybe it’s the basic root of these serious problems.

Let’s continue, then, to explore, converse, and search for ways to reach our teens and prevent these senseless and devastating suicides. There are answers out there, let’s find them!  


Caminar to Merge With FCS in early 2017

Caminar for Mental Health and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley Announce Plans to Merge in January 2017

Strategic Partnership to Strengthen Behavioral Health Care Across Bay Area


   Two deeply-rooted Bay Area mental health organizations, Caminar for Mental Health and Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley (FCS), will merge on January 1, 2017. With an operating budget of $32 million, the combined organization will reach over 14,000 people annually with programs that build bridges to wellness, resiliency and self-sufficiency.

   The boards of directors of both organizations unanimously approved the merger, under which FCS will operate as a division of Caminar. The merged nonprofit will provide services in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Solano and Butte counties.

   “This is a merger of strength,” said Chip Huggins, CEO of Caminar, who will head the expanded organization. “Both organizations enjoy strong ties with our communities, are in strong financial positions, provide robust and vibrant programs, and have been built on complementary visions and goals."

   “It is an exciting time for behavioral health organizations like ours that are dedicated to offering innovative and effective care,” said Diana Neiman, CEO of FCS, who will become executive director of programs and services of the FCS division on January 1. “FCS and Caminar will offer individuals and families a higher level of coordinated care as they cope with multiple mental and physical health challenges and daily living needs.”

   The combined organization will address clients’ complex needs through a continuum of care that encompasses treatment of mental health and substance use conditions, family violence and abuse prevention, case management, medication clinics, short-term residential treatment, and supported employment, housing, and educational programs.

   No staff or program changes are planned in connection with the merger. The organization will have nearly 500 employees.

   “At FCS, we feel privileged to have served generations of neighbors and families, and we look forward to strengthening our legacy of compassion by expanding our continuum of care in partnership with Caminar,” said Neiman. 

About Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley

Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley has been strengthening families and changing lives in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties since 1948 through mental health and substance use disorders treatment, case management, and family violence and abuse prevention services. The organization’s portfolio of counseling programs for children, teens and adults includes specialized services for LGBTQ youth and adults, foster youth, at-risk teens, and domestic violence survivors. In order to increase access to care, FCS, based in Palo Alto and San Jose, brings services to dozens of community-based locations, such as schools, community centers, criminal justice facilities and client homes.

 More information at www.fcservices.org

 A merger FAQ is posted online at www.fcservices.org/merger-faq/





"In Concert With Caminar" Photos

On Saturday, October 15th at the SFJAZZ Center, mental health supporters, advocates, and jazz lovers came together to raise money and celebrate the strides that Caminar has made in providing treatment for those who experience mental health difficulties. Music, food, heartwarming stories, and the generosity of our guests truly made this night unforgettable. Here are a few photos from that special evening.


David Sanborn Speaks About the Importance of Mental Health Care

In the Press

Thank you to The Reporter for publishing an article promoting our event.

Read Here:  http://www.thereporter.com/general-news/20161012/jazz-fest-to-raise-funding-for-mental-health-services

More Caminar Clients Enjoy #Music4MentalHealth

A new group of Caminar clients had the opportunity to experience live music at the Empress Theater. Read August's blog post (below) for more information about this fun event.

 The Empress Theatre, a beautiful 400 seat theatre with state-of-the-art sound system, huge stage, dance floor, and plush velvet seats,  invited 3 Caminar clients to listen to live music free of charge. This event is part of a new monthly series that uses music as a form of therapy for adults with mental illness.

   "Being able to take the clients to these offsite events improves their quality of life and enables them to enjoy what they normally would not be able to participate in otherwise," says Kenneth G. Langill, Program Coordinator of the Wellness Recovery Center in Solano County.  

   Langill was able to secure complimentary  entry for 3-4 Caminar clients in the Wellness and Recovery program to experience live music at this wonderful venue once per month.

We want to thank the Empress Theatre for their generosity and for supporting Caminar's mission to help people with disabilities live happy and enriched lives. 

   For more information about the Empress Theatre, please visit their website: http://empresstheatre.org/

3 Ways Mental Illness Can Trigger Suicidal Thoughts

Guest post by Adam Cook, creator of www.addictionhub.org.

There is a wide assortment of mental illnesses that can be linked to suicide. Depression is, of course, the most common. But what people may not realize is that any mental illness has the potential to trigger suicidal thoughts. Even if depression is not necessarily a symptom, anyone with a mental illness should know and understand their risks. Here are a few of the ways a mental illness can bring about suicidal thoughts.

Lack of Treatment

Too often, people suffering from mental illness remain undiagnosed and untreated. Whether social stigma is to blame or basic lack of funds, too many people are not receiving the help they need for their mental illness. Without treatment, a mental illness can take over a person’s daily life. The symptoms will grow worse, affecting relationships and the ability to manage everyday life.

Seeking professional treatment is critical for the wellbeing of a person with a mental illness. It is the only way to ensure that symptoms are controlled and that the person knows how to cope with the effects of their illness in an efficient and positive way. It is also an important step in preventing suicide.

Self-Medication in Lieu of Proper Treatment

For many people who aren’t receiving treatment, self-medication is common. Self-medication occurs when a person abuses a substance in an attempt to control the symptoms of a physical or mental illness. Consequently, addiction is also more common in those with mental illness than those without. With self-medication, suicide becomes even more likely as it typically means the person is not receiving proper treatment, is experiencing worsening symptoms, and is now also struggling with an addiction.

Substance abuse may seem to reduce the symptoms of a mental illness for a short period of time but in reality, it is making them worse. Substance abuse can give a person hope that their symptoms are under control while the high lasts, but at the end, they feel their symptoms become more severe. Thoughts of suicide during this time are not uncommon. Furthermore, substance abuse makes suicidal actions easier to contemplate. Alcohol, in particular, is often used during suicide attempts.

Depression as an Illness or a Side Effect

Depression is a very common mental illness and takes many forms. Untreated depression can cause a person to feel hopeless and as though they will never enjoy life again. Therapy, coping tactics, and possibly medication are necessary for a person with depression.

For people with other mental health concerns, depression is often an underlying, secondary condition. It is common for people struggling with mental illness to become depressed or hopeless as they fight to regain control over their lives. Regardless of the diagnosis, it is important to know that depression and suicidal thoughts are always a potential risk.

Suicide remains, unfortunately, common, particularly in those with mental health problems. Substance abuse and addiction fall under the category of mental illness and are some of the top contributors to suicidal thoughts. Even if you or your loved one is not self-medicating, depression often comes alongside other diagnoses. Always be aware of and on the lookout for the signs of suicidal thoughts and make treatment a top priority.

Learn more at http://www.addictionhub.org.

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

Caminar Clients Enjoy FREE Music at Empress Theatre

The Wellness Recovery Center's #MusicforMentalHealth Series Continues


   The Empress Theatre, a beautiful 400 seat theatre with state-of-the-art sound system, huge stage, dance floor, and plush velvet seats,  invited 3 Caminar clients to listen to live music free of charge. This event is part of a new monthly series that uses music as a form of therapy for adults with mental illness.

   "Being able to take the clients to these offsite events improves their quality of life and enables them to enjoy what they normally would not be able to participate in otherwise," says Kenneth G. Langill, Program Coordinator of the Wellness Recovery Center in Solano County.  

   Langill was able to secure complimentary  entry for 3-4 Caminar clients in the Wellness and Recovery program to experience live music at this wonderful venue once per month.

   Photos of the last event shown here were taken by Empress Theatre staff photographer and Caminar advocate Gary Cullen. Caminar clients are looking forward to the next trip on September 21st. We want to thank the Empress Theatre for their generosity and for supporting Caminar's mission to help people with disabilities live happy and enriched lives. 

   For more information about the Empress Theatre, please visit their website: http://empresstheatre.org/

Caminar's 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium

By Angelica Chisolm

A new era of paradigm shift was the theme of Caminar’s 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium at the historic, renaissance inspired Filoli Gardens on May 25, 2016.  On a beautiful spring afternoon, here sits this magnificent piece of 16-acre property that is a product of northern California’s eclectic style from different elements of architectural eras. 

In attendance at the symposium were representatives from different government agencies, social organizations, medical institutions, school districts, donors, legal and private business sectors, volunteers and advocates.  In full support were Caminar’s Executive Management Team, Board of Directors and employees.  All guests were treated to a late afternoon of fine wine and hors d’oeuvres while enjoying and being amazed by this wondrous and pristine nature.  Volunteer docents acting as tour guides were visibly offering detailed history and background of the picture perfect ambiance. Lead Visitor Services representative Gina Rossi proudly shared how Filoli’s 1,000+ volunteers were generous with their time and talent in keeping up with operations and maintenance.  “We call the ladies working in the spice garden our ‘spice girls’,” Gina quips.  The estate is under the umbrella of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is open to the public.  For a minimal fee, members and guests can enjoy fun events like concerts, exhibits and outdoor activities.  Visit Filoli.org/programs to learn more.

Commencing the Symposium was Caminar CEO Mr. Chip Huggins, who officially welcomed distinguished guests and thanked numerous sponsors.  Special mention to friend of Caminar and world renowned photo journalist Michael Collopy for covering the event.

Caminar’s mission is improving the quality of life for people with mental disabilities.  The goal is to provide avenues of opportunity to live with dignity and independence in the community.  A video of Sheri Gomes’ story was shown as testimony of a once-upon-a-time Caminar client.  She was an addict and homeless, and everything she owned was in her car.  She attempted suicide by jumping out of a five story building and miraculously survived.  Hopeless and depressed, she thought her life was not worth living. With Caminar’s assistance, she turned her life around. Sheri was in attendance at the Symposium, and coincidentally it was also her birthday! She now works as a Job Coach for Caminar, helping people recover from mental illness.  More inspiring stories are available at www.caminar.org.

Leading the introduction was Caminar Medical Director Dr. Jake Treskovich who shared his essential role in working with and treating Caminar clients. He turned over the floor to Moderator and Speaker Steven Adelsheim, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University.  Recognized as a national leader, Dr. Adelsheim specializes in the development and implementation of early detection and intervention programs for young adults.  He spoke of programs for depression, anxiety and first episodes of psychosis.  More of his work and expertise are available at https:med.stanford.edu/profiles/steven-adelsheim.

The podium was then turned over to Speaker Leanne Williams Ph.D. to cover the subjects of depression, anxiety and finding tests to help match patients to the best treatment.  She is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science also at Stanford University School of Medicine.  Her research created programs on how to change the narrative of mental disorders by deconstructing diagnostic groups using brain imaging, physiological, behavioral and genetic data. Her goal is to characterize dysfunction at the individual person level and to identify biomarkers that will guide prognostic and treatment decisions in real world clinical settings. For more information, see Leanne Williams, Ph.D.

Next Speaker to take the stage was Dr. Stephan Sanders, BMBS, Ph.D.  He gave an informative talk on the topic of Autism, its genetic linkage to Schizophrenia and early detection of both.  He stressed how genetics play an important role in mental illness.  He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCSF School of Medicine.  His research is being used to identify multiple Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) genes to understand the cause of Autism.  More details at http:profiles.ucsf.edu/stephan. sanders.

The last Speaker was Karan Singh, MS, MBA who spoke about the subject of Technology in Behavioral Health Care Delivery.  He is Co-founder of Ginger.io, a technology-enabled mental health provider for people with depression and anxiety.  It is a new kind of behavioral solution approach through technology.  They invented an app (available on Google play and Apple app store) that directly connects individuals to health coaches who will identify needs and make clinical assessments.  Behind every member at Ginger.io, there is a team of data scientists and clinicians to provide care, whenever needed, in a most convenient, personal and private way.  It is the go-to place for high quality, accessible and affordable mental health care.  More information available at https://ginger.io/about.



The finale was a Question and Answer portion where audience opinion was raised on many topics, including the possibility of Federal funding to alleviate support for more research projects; also on the chance that health insurance companies provide a wider coverage for mental illness treatment.

It was truly a night filled with information on cutting edge research and treatment modalities. A female representative from The Department of Rehabilitation, Liezel Taube, expressed how impressed she was on the different approaches and studies made by the speakers. We are fortunate to have limitless technology and unrelenting hands of those who burn lamps to discover the cause and effects of mental health issues. 

At the mid-point of the event, a special recognition was awarded to Caminar patriarch and CEO Mr. Huggins for his generous contributions and dedication to the organization.  Thereby declaring May 25, 2016, Chip Huggins Day. In acknowledgement, Mr. Huggins stated, “Knowledge is the key to mental health.”  Take it from the man who knows his business. Caminar thanks everyone who attended and spoke at this year’s symposium. We can’t wait to see what exciting information is shared at next year’s event!


Watch Sheri’s Story: From Crisis to Independence

At our 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium back in May of this year, we premiered a very powerful video of one of our former clients. The subject of the film, Sheri, faced serious depression, which led her to engage in self-destructive behavior and attempt to take her own life. Thankfully she survived and was referred to Caminar, where she received services that have helped her in the long road to recovery. Please take a few minutes of your time to watch this very inspirational story.

Caminar for Mental Health and Basecamp Fitness: Miles for Mental Health

On May 21, the Basecamp Fitness family came together across its four locations to help Caminar for Mental Health raise money for Mental Health Awareness month. 

Basecamp Fitness, with locations in Burlingame, San Francisco, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, opened its doors to Caminar and its members biked over 1,400 miles in the name of mental health awareness. 

"We cannot be more grateful to Basecamp Fitness and their members for their hard work and sweat," said Caminar's Director of Development, Carolyn DeVoto Salcido. "As a community-based nonprofit, it's truly heart-warming to see other community entities like Basecamp really open their hearts to our mission." 

[RELATED: Caminar participates in "Road to Recovery 5K"]

In all, the four Basecamp studios combined to raise more than $2,200 for mental health awareness.

Basecamp Fitness is a 35 minute, heart-pumping, muscle-building, fitness experience that builds a healthier person! They are a tight knit, supportive community built around building strong hearts inside and outside their studio.

For more on Basecamp Fitness, click here.