In 2019, the Santa Cruz County Overcoming Substance Addiction Consortium (SOSA) initiated a network of organizations to engage in treatment, recovery, and awareness around psychostimulants, and substance use disorders, SUD to reduce stigma and heal the community.
The stigma behind mental health issues and substance use is high in both rural and border communities, due to these communities being close-knit, drastically affecting the anonymity of those seeking help. Leading our communities to suffer from untreated mental health issues, and increasing substance abuse.
SEAHEC, Mariposa Community Health Center with the SOSA Consortium, created innovative ways to increase the reduction of stigma, through storytelling. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to influence, teach, and inspire. Forging connections among people and ideas passing on culture, history, and values that unite people. Our border communities and families understand intuitively that the stories we share are an essential part of the ties that bind us and build trust.
In this digital story, our community members tell stories about their lived experiences and where they are now. Using culturally and linguistically appropriate vocabulary that our community could relate to and understand. Seeing a familiar face helps reduce the stigma and increases awareness.
As part of our SUD awareness campaign, this digital story was shared with local partners and community members. Since then, it has Influenced future initiatives. Partners and community members are more aware of treatment and other resources in our community. We have confronted the major barriers against SUD within our community by using culturally-linguistic appropriate services to educate our communities and key stakeholders by offering virtual and in-person workshops, training, digital storytelling, and other educational material.