Local outreach groups promote mental health and well-being at annual fair

Dozens of community groups packed the Harvin Center recently for a Halloween-themed health fair. 

Visitors to the Spooktacular Mental Health and Resource Fair on Oct. 27 at Heritage Campus could stock up on candy while finding out what resources are available locally.

Sierra Zavala, with Coastal Plains Community Center, had a booth to let people know the center provides counseling services in the rural South Texas area, including San Patricio and Kingsville. The center also offers programs for veterans, youths, and people with substance abuse problems.

“Not everyone has access to counseling in those towns,” Zavala said.

A sliding scale pricing system based on income and family size helps those who may not be able to pay the full standard amount. For more information, call Coastal Plains Community Center’s main location in Portland at 361-777-3991.

Another group at the fair, Corpus Christi Hope House, gives assistance to expecting mothers and mothers of children up to 3 years old, according to its executive director, Melissa Juarez, and Director of Client Services Debra Arsuaga. They added that Hope House has free diapers, emergency housing, life skills classes, and help with rent to moms who need it. Contact them at 361-852-2273.

Benjamin Rios, with the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, was at the event to let students know of the services available, including free STI and HIV testing.

“A lot of people are scared of the stigma that STIs have, but they are more common than you realize,” Rios said.

The foundation also offers free at home testing through their website, or by calling 361-814-2001. It also does outreach for smaller cities such as Beeville and Alice at no charge.

All booths gave out candy or other free items like lip balm, condoms, coloring books, and the beloved popcorn balls. Students filled the second floor of the Harvin Center to collect their goodies and learn about where to go if they need help.

The family friendly haunted house went easy on the scares and heavy on mental health pamphlets and organization cards. About 200 students attended.

The DMC Counseling Center and Division of Student Engagement and Retention sponsored the event.

“The last one we had in person was in 2019,” Counselor Jessica Edwards of the temporary pause the Spooktacular took due to COVID-19. “We did offer a virtual one, but it wasn’t on the same scale.”

The Counseling Center welcomes all students to schedule an appointment or go as a walk-in if they need to talk to someone. More information can be found on the Del Mar website or by calling 361-698-1586.

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