Camarena gets $90,000 from Kaiser

Money will help fund programs to aid the mentally ill

Kaiser Permanente has awarded a $90,000 grant to Camarena Health to help improve opinions about treatment for the mentally ill.

The money will support a public awareness campaign to reduce the stigma often present in cases of mental illness, and encourage students in the Madera Unified School District, and pregnant women, to seek treatment if needed.

Camarena Health — the largest healthcare provider in Madera County — is expected to serve 2,500 high school students and 750 pregnant women accessing care in their health center.

“There are personal and social stigmas attached to accessing mental health services,” said Christine Howland, chief operating officer for Camarena Health. “This money will allow us to implement an awareness campaign and break down some of those stigmas and negative perceptions.”

A total of $2 million in community health grants was awarded to 25 Northern California organizations, including school districts, youth and family services and community coalitions.

The anti-stigma effort will support community organizations in developing classes, public forums and awareness campaigns that are customized for specific populations. This is the first part of a three-year initiative.

“Many people are afraid to seek care, even in times of crisis, because of the stigma associated with mental illness,” Kaiser Permanente Fresno Mental Health Chief Marta Obler, MD, said.

Camarena Health plans to reach high school students — particularly those at Madera South where Camarena has a school-based health clinic — by providing them with educational materials, training and peer counseling, so they know how to access mental health services available at their school or in the community.

Camarena Health also plans to educate pregnant women about postpartum depression and other mental health conditions.