Moving Forward Together

Breaking Down Barriers

Raise your voice. End the stigma.

Breaking Down Barriers is an outreach and education program that works with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and the LGBTQIA+ community to talk about mental wellness. Through educational workshops and events, we discuss the stigma of mental health and connect participants to helpful resources. We also provide cultural humility/cultural competency training to community members and providers who work with these populations. We want to normalize conversations about mental wellness so everyone can thrive.

This is strictly an educational program, and we do not provide diagnoses or serve as licensed therapists.

Take the Next Step

What We Do

Every community has a different perspective on mental wellness. We’re here to amplify your voice and add our expertise to the conversations already happening in our communities. Our educational workshops use a strengths-based approach to help you develop a positive relationship with your own mental health and support the wellness of your loved ones. Presentations are available in English, Spanish, and interpretation is available in other languages as needed. The workshop content can be adapted for youth, adults, and older adults/elders.

Here’s a few topics we can talk about:

  • Self-Care & Community Care: We will discuss self-care and community care practices that individual participants can engage in to support their own well-being. Workshops may also discuss topics related to anxiety, depression, or reducing burnout.
  • Historical Trauma: We will review the concepts of historical and intergenerational trauma, and we will discuss how historical events (e.g. colonialism, slavery, war, segregation) impact BIPOC mental health and wellbeing. This training can be provided to community members to support them in understanding and articulating the ways that their families and/or communities have been impacted by historical trauma. The training can also be adapted for providers to help them understand the impact of past trauma on clients and communities.
  • Stress Management for Youth: We will highlight the different roots of stress faced by the youth in our communities and how it shows up in the body somatically. Youth will gain a deeper understanding of how stress and stigma impact their emotional needs and daily life, while exploring different stress reduction practices to incorporate.
  • Overview of Mental Health Stigmas: We will discuss the various mental health stigmas that exist in our communities and have in-depth conversations about cultural beliefs that may prevent us from talking about mental health. This conversation will allow us to navigate the challenges that exist when talking about mental health with our friends, family, and community.
  • Healthy Relationships: A discussion on relationships. What is considered healthy, unhealthy, and how to set boundaries. This workshop is interactive and incorporates role play.
  • Understanding Support Systems: The importance of having a strong support system to help us reduce stress is of extreme importance to maintaining your well-being and mental health. This conversation will help participants identify their existing support systems and how to make the best use of those supports.
  • Activism Fatigue: this series highlights the importance of rest and sustainability for activists. This workshop asks questions that help us remember, honor, and reclaim culturally significant healing and self-care practices. This workshop focuses on reducing the stigma of rest that prevents some community members from fully engaging in healing practices, while building better boundaries when participating in activism.
  • ABC’s of Finding a Therapist: This workshop is intended for community members who would like to understand some of the first steps in finding a therapist. We will discuss the types of therapists, some popular approaches to treatment, what a first session might look like and tips for identifying if a therapist is a good match.
  • Cultural Competency/Cultural Humility: These trainings are for service providers who would like to learn best practices for working with community members who may identify as African American/Black; African/Refugee; Asian/Pacific Islander; Latino; LGBTQ+; Middle Eastern; and/or Native American/Indigenous. Breaking Down Barriers staff will lead a training (typically 1.5-2 hours) focused on 1 of the identified communities listed above. The training will include a brief history, cultural norms and practices, terminologies and definitions, data on mental health, and sensitive practices to be aware of when working with a particular community. We will also offer an interactive portion where you can ask questions and discuss with others ways to show support for the community.
  • Mental Health and Supportive Services: Introduction to Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression: This workshop is for service providers who would like to better understand how communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community face systemic issues that negatively impact their mental health and wellbeing. This training will help providers establish a foundation towards understanding and implementing anti-racism/anti-oppression practices, self-reflection, and personal critique as related to mental health.
  • Workshops can be adapted to fit your community or organizational needs.

How We Do It

Our Outreach Team collaborates with community organizations to develop and present workshops. We facilitate stigma reducing and interactive conversations to normalize mental health in a supportive environment, through a culturally relevant lens. No matter your current knowledge of mental health topics, our program is accessible for everyone and is tailored to reflect the values of our communities.

1 in 5
adults in the U.S. experience mental health issues in any given year*

*National Alliance on Mental Illness

Meet the Team

Briana Leyva

Briana Leyva (she/her/hers) is the Outreach Coordinator for the Latinx Community. She is a daughter of immigrants from Guerrero, Mexico. Her background lies in mental health and health advocacy. She is passionate about holistic wellness, health equity, and community involvement. Outside of work, Briana enjoys spending time with loved ones and being outdoors.

photo of Lily Mojdehi

Lily Mojdehi

Lily Mojdehi (she/her/hers) is the Outreach Coordinator for the Middle Eastern/South West Asian Community. She is a daughter of two immigrants from Iran, and was born and raised in San Diego. She has a background in crisis counseling and youth engagement. Outside of work, she enjoys dancing, being in nature, and volunteering throughout San Diego County.

photo of Spshelle Rutledge

Spshelle Rutledge

Spshelle Rutledge (she/her/hers) is the Outreach Coordinator for the African American/Black Community. She is a Marine Corps veteran who  specializes in mental health and public health. Outside of work, Spshelle enjoys time with loved ones and volunteering.

photo of Vanessa Pineda

Vanessa Pineda

Vanessa Pineda (she/her/hers) is the Outreach Manager and the Outreach Coordinator for the LGBTQ + Community. She is a multi-generational Latinx Queer with a background in mental health and vocational rehabilitation. When not at work, she enjoys arranging flowers, tending to her house plants, and baking.

Isabella Amansec

Isabella Amansec (they/them/she/her) is the Outreach Coordinator for the Asian and Pacific Islander Community. Isabella is a first-generation Filipino and is the child of immigrants from the Philippines. They have a background in youth counseling and social justice advocacy. Outside of work, Isabella enjoys attending local BIPOC-hosted events, cooking, and painting.

Bethlehem Wolkeba

Bethlehem Wolkeba (she/her/hers) is the Outreach Coordinator for the African/Refugee community. She is the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and she was born and raised in San Diego/Kumeyaay land. Her background is in student counseling, mental health and social justice with an emphasis in health equity. Outside of work, she enjoys painting, spending time with loved ones and being outdoors.

We’re here to help you take the next step

For more information about the program and to learn about resources and upcoming events, check out Breaking Down Barriers on Facebook and Instagram.

Moving Forward Together

A program of Jewish Family Service, funded by the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency.