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Kimberly Warmsley, a private practice therapeutic provider whose specialty is “creating new ways of healing individuals suffering from emotional distress,” is a speaker on trauma healing at our 2019 Northern California Multicultural Symposium: “Team NAMI: Raising Voices” on Saturday, October 12.

Of our work together, she says, “NAMI has been always been influential in my professional life. I enjoyed learning through the lenses of the volunteers and professionals within this organization and its entirety.” Below, she shares her insights as part of our interview series on local leaders working to help end stigma and make sure that all our communities receive the mental health services they need.

Why is mental health is a priority for you?

Mental health is very important to me because our emotional distress directs our day-to-day functioning. When people feel better, they work better, they go to school better, they have better relationships, etc. This is why it is important that we prioritize our mental health so that we can feel better.

What would you say is the biggest challenge when it comes to mental health? 

The biggest challenge that I see in mental health is there are not enough providers. There need to be more providers in order to ensure that there are quality services. I am amazed that some of the biggest health care systems lack enough providers to fit the need of the people. People deserve immediate appointments and fast turn-around. People should not be waiting 60 days for an appointment, and only see their provider every three weeks.

Lastly, we need to address the lack of cultural sensitivity in treatment, in order to treat people according to where they are in their belief systems and cultural traditions. Building rapport and trust is essential in creating effective relationships with clients and communities.

Can you share a recent success story or describe a big work accomplishment you’re proud of achieving? 

My biggest achievement is transcribing the Trauma-Informed Care Proclamation for the City of Stockton. I am proud of the fact that the City is recognizing the need for de-stigmatizing mental health, and that we must be supportive of individuals that are dealing with mental illness. It is my hope to continue the conversations of empowering people to access services if needed. It is my hope that this proclamation will be a tool in encouraging organizations, businesses, neighbors, and community to support individuals in seeking care and treatment.

What do you personally do to take care of your mental health? Can you share one or more things you do for self-care?

Self-care is very important to me. I enjoy long drives with beautiful scenery such as the mountains, beaches, and even sightseeing. My most favorite thing to do is to drive across the Golden State Bride, Bay Bridge or San Mateo bridge and open all the windows up and smell the fresh sea water.

What gives you hope for the future?

My hope for the future is that we begin to normalize the fact that mental health should be a priority in care. My hope is to de-stigmatize the negativity that people project towards people that are suffering with mental illness. My hope for the future is for metal health to be a priority in care, and that we create more spaces for people to heal. I hope that we invest more clinic and culturally enriched services for people, not only in Stockton, but throughout the country.