Breaking Down Barriers is an outreach program that works with underserved communities to talk about mental wellness. Through educational presentations and events, we discuss the stigma of mental health and connect participants to helpful resources. 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.
Every community has a different perspective on mental wellness. That’s why our culturally sensitive Outreach Team reflects the diversity of San Diego. We’re here to amplify your voice and add our expertise to the conversations already happening in your community. Our empowering events 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.
We can talk about:
There’s no shortage of engaging ways to talk about mental wellness. Our Outreach Team organizes community events, group presentations, cultural sensitivity trainings, and many other opportunities to cultivate conversation. No matter your current knowledge of mental health topics, our program is accessible for everyone and is tailored to reflect the values of your unique community. Our events focus on:
1 in 5
adults in the U.S. experience mental health issues in any given year*
*National Alliance on Mental Illness
Vanessa Pineda is the Outreach Manager and the Outreach Coordinator for the LGBTQ + Community. She has a background in mental health, vocational rehabilitation, and is part of the LGBTQ+ community. When not at work, she enjoys arranging flowers, tending her house plants, and baking.
Spshelle Rutledge is the Outreach Coordinator for the African American/Black Community. She specializes in mental health, international health, and community health. Outside of work, Spshelle enjoys traveling and volunteering throughout San Diego.
Fernando Parra Chong
Fernando Parra Chong is the Outreach Coordinator for the Latino Community. He is passionate about community organizing, mental health, and public education. Apart from work, Fernando enjoys creating music and spending time with his family.
Marcia Hunter is the Outreach Coordinator for the Native American Community. She has a background in community engagement, mental health, and data analysis. Outside of work, Marcia enjoys traveling with her family and exploring national parks.
Rafal Al Bayati
Rafal Al Bayati is the Outreach Coordinator for Middle Eastern Community. She specializes in mental health, community needs, and public health. When not at work, Rafal enjoys belly dancing, hip hop, and volunteering.
Noun Abdelaziz is the Outreach Coordinator for the African Refugee Community. Her expertise lies in youth engagement, mental health, and public health advocacy. Outside of work, Noun enjoys gardening, being around family, and traveling.
Gabriela Masuda is the Outreach Coordinator for the Asian Pacific Islander Community. She is passionate about mental health, women’s empowerment, and creativity as a form of healing. Outside of work Gabriela enjoys running her own calligraphy business, thrifting, and finding the best food spots in the city.