Sanctuary Centers: Transforming Mental Health Care in Santa Barbara Since 1976 | Good for Santa Barbara
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In this interview Noozhawk spoke with Lola Ban West, Director of Marketing & Development at Sanctuary Centers to learn more about how the nonprofit provides mental health services to our community.
Question: What is the name and mission of your nonprofit?
Answer: Since 1976, Sanctuary Centers has been at the forefront of filling critical gaps in mental health services, displaying a steadfast commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the Santa Barbara community. Our mission to provide powerful, comprehensive, and transformative mental health care guides us in delivering a broad spectrum of services including 24-hour residential care, outpatient mental health care, supportive housing, and integrated health care to children, individuals, and families across our region.
Question: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?
Answer: In 1976, Sanctuary Centers aspired to provide community based residential treatment for seriously mentally ill adults as an alternative to long term state hospitalization. Since then, the mental health landscape has changed a lot and so have we. Over nearly 5 decades of service, Sanctuary Centers has adapted our programs to respond to the evolving behavioral health needs of our community. Today, we are proud to offer inpatient and outpatient behavioral health care, long term supportive housing, and integrated medical and dental care.
Question: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?
Answer: Sanctuary Centers maintains diversified funding streams from local, state, and national funders. Despite a robust grant and private pay network, we rely on the generous support of philanthropists in our region to sustain programming. We recognize that there is a growing need for intensive behavioral health care and seek to build a scholarship fund for clients who need higher levels of care and/or longer term care than they are able to access.
Question: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?
Answer: Sanctuary Centers accepts volunteers at various levels. There are placements for undergraduates and/or folks who are just passionate about mental health, as well as proper internships for masters and doctoral level interns.
Question: What makes your nonprofit different from others?
Answer: Sanctuary Centers has had almost 50 years to create one of the most unique and effective continuum of care models in the nation, and today, we are one of the country’s last remaining nonprofit mental health care providers. By delivering highly individualized care, Sanctuary Centers is able to meet each one of our clients right where they are on their treatment journey.
Question: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?
Answer: When I came to Sanctuary Centers I couldn’t deal with myself, let alone a global pandemic. I didn’t know anything about mental illness, I had never even heard anyone talk about mental health. No one knew how I felt, I was alone on an island. I desperately wanted to be well, but I didn’t have skills to deal with my condition. In June 2007, I finally made it to Sanctuary House inpatient program. Working alongside others going through a similar mental health journey that I could talk to made all the difference. The tools and skills I learned and developed at Sanctuary Centers over a decade ago are invaluable to me, I still use them every single day—especially in self-isolation. I worked on my socialization skills by making friends, relearned to express myself by talking to therapists, and managed my anxiety by developing coping mechanisms and practicing them. If I wasn’t able to rely on my productive coping mechanisms to get me through Covid-19, I do not know what I’d do.
Covid-19 has brought many challenges into my life: fear and anxiety bearing down, the extra precautions making every chore that much more difficult. The skills I learned at Sanctuary have not just helped me regain my life, they’ve helped me stay centered through coronavirus. The techniques taught to me at Sanctuary help me be in the moment as much as possible, to combat my anxiety around things I can’t control. I still experience anxiety, but I’m able to manage it through practicing mindfulness. Now, I focus on the tiny victories. I focus on gratitude, and feel so grateful for the life I have. Every day, I am grateful for these skills I learned at Sanctuary. Since living at Sanctuary House, I’ve never felt alone… even in isolation. And, thanks to Sanctuary Centers, I have my life back.
Question: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?
Answer: Sanctuary Centers’ Development & Marketing team coordinates digital and print media strategies to share the work that we do, and our need for funding support. We host small events and speaking engagements to introduce philanthropists, local businesses, and clients to our services.
Question: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal that your nonprofit has for the next year?
Answer: In the short term, Sanctuary Centers is preparing to break ground on a new 5-story community benefit project in the heart of Santa Barbara. When completed, the building will offer 34 additional units of affordable housing, medical, dental, and behavioral health clinics, and communal spaces for our residents. The groundbreaking is our most exciting short-term goal and opening the doors of that building will be our long-term goal as it will likely take about two years to construct.
Click here to learn more about Sanctuary Center’s mission to provide powerful, comprehensive, and transformative mental health care.
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