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new computer lab for mental health patients

Psychology student Esmeralda Aldana '21 teaches a computer class at the Martin Gipson Socialization Center.

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Pacific News

Pacific receives $30,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to support mental health outreach

May 31, 2019

Kaiser Permanente has awarded a $30,000 grant to University of the Pacific as part of its commitment to provide access to high-quality mental health care services. The grant will help renovate a computer lab and fund recreational outings for clients at Pacific's Martin Gipson Socialization Center.

The center, located in a residential neighborhood near downtown Stockton, is designed to teach adult clients with intellectual disabilities lifelong leisure, recreation and pre-vocational skills, which help in facilitating reintegration back into the community. It is operated by the university's Community Re-Entry Program, housed within the Department of Psychology, in partnership with San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Services.  

"There are limited financial resources for these types of renovations for this population, so we are so thankful to receive this grant from Kaiser Permanente," said Todd Fabian, the program director for the center. "Oftentimes the individuals we serve have limited access to technology resources, and, if they do have access, many need assistance learning how to use it."  

That's where Pacific students step in. Typically, three Pacific students intern at the center each semester where they prepare and lead classes and help with social activities. When clients come to the center, they will be able to take a variety of computer literacy courses, such as computer hardware basics, creating and using an email account, internet safety, introduction to Microsoft Office Word, Google Drive, using online forms and more.  

"This computer lab really serves as an opportunity for hands-on learning," said Esmeralda Aldana '21, a sophomore psychology student who teaches the Professionalism in Email class as part of her internship. "Using a computer is something we take for granted because we do it every day. But for them, this might be the first time they've ever sent an email."  

The benefits from the grant, which covered the cost of new Apple Mac computers, a training monitor and printer, are two-fold. "The computer lab will help clients connect with friends and family and explore educational and vocational opportunities while giving Pacific students valuable experience working with a clinical population," said Fabian.   When asked about the new lab, one client responded emphatically, "It works 10 times better than the old lab! Before, everything was old and slow. These Apple computers are really good."  

Since the new computer lab was unveiled, there has already been a marked increase in computer class attendance.  

"The most rewarding part of the job is seeing someone with limited social skills blossom, make friends and eventually find a job," said Shyane Tapp '15, a behavioral specialist at the center. Tapp was a student intern before being hired full time to oversee the internship program.  

The grant will also fund recreational trips for clients, including outings to the zoo, the movies, bowling and an excursion to the Asparagus Festival. Clients earn trips by attending classes.  

In addition to computer classes, the center offers hourly health and wellness classes on nutrition and cooking, social skills, medication education, mental health symptom management, stress and anger management and arts and crafts. The center also hosts a monthly dinner for all clients.  

"It's all about socialization and helping people get their life back, whether that's earning visitation rights to see their kids or getting their first paycheck. Seeing everything come full circle is the rewarding part," said Fabian. "This Kaiser Permanente grant is going to allow us to do all the things we wished we could do."

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