When someone is facing an illness the center of attention is primarily on physical health and well-being. Addressing physical symptoms and identifying the appropriate remedies to cure or manage the illness is the main focus of time and energy for the patient and physician, but our mental health also plays an important role in effectively coping with illnesses and our overall ability to heal.

Dr. Desmonette Hazly, Greet The Day’s Integrative Health and Wellness Chair, works with many community groups. A recent project of hers has been to help design and implement integrative health courses for the Integrated Service Management (ISM) program at Alma Family Services, Los Angeles, to support people in culturally-diverse communities who are facing chronic and life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

An important component of the ISM program is providing participatory experiences that can positively affect quality of life and Dr. Hazly teaches the integrative health modalities and culinary arts courses where ISM participants are introduced to various types of integrative health concepts and skills, and then are encouraged to put them into practice.

Aromatherapy, Yoga, Art, Massage, Music, Meditation and Food

Alma ISM program participants learn about aromatherapy, yoga, art and music therapy, meditation and many other integrative health subjects in Dr. Hazly’s classes, and she says “My classes are always full when I teach massage therapy and culinary arts.”

“Learning how to incorporate integrative wellness practices into busy lives is not the only outcome for the ISM program. Many participants report that they experience positive changes in various aspects of their lives.” ISM program director Elsy Molina LCSW also sees the personal growth and notices “a sense of trust and familiarity among class participants, and a great majority of participants verbalizing how much of a difference their participating in these classes have on their mood and their physical health”.

The classes that Dr. Hazly instructs at Alma Family Services, are 3-month certificate courses that culminate with graduation ceremonies where family and friends attend. It is at these graduation celebrations that participants and staff alike realize the tremendous growth of the clients and how their lives have changed. “Clients seem to be more committed to implementing new knowledge and techniques learned in the culinary arts & integrative health & wellness classes into their daily practices, and are happy to report on the positive reactions of their family members with these practices”, reports Ms. Molina, Alma’s ISM program director.

About Alma
Alma Family Services, Los Angeles, is dedicated to advancing the quality of life of families and individuals coping with a range of needs including significant emotional difficulties, substance abuse and/or developmental challenges. For over 40 years Alma has provided mental health services to the community and collaborates with health care facilities and other agencies to serve and support people who are facing chronic and life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

About the Integrated Service Management (ISM) program
Alma Family Services understands the connection of mind, body and spirit and provides comprehensive integrative health services for their clients via their Latino Community Designed Integrated Service Management (ISM) program.

The Alma ISM program is directed by Elsy Molina LCSW, and is designed to promote culturally sensitive community-based partnerships that integrate health, mental health and substance abuse services with non-traditional services to support healing and recovery. Participants in the ISM program receive an abundance of supportive care from therapists, case managers and collaborative non-traditional service providers.

When speaking about ISM and the integrative health services, participants attest to how their physical and mental health have been enhanced and express deep appreciation for the opportunity to have access to services that are more congruent to the healing practices of their native culture. “My energy levels have increased, and it is evident my mood is the best it has been in a while and I feel motivated to do a million things. I feel inspired”, states one of the graduating ISM participants.

The ISM program embraces their clients as unique individuals who are also part of a valued and cherished community. Participants know and understand that the program is there to provide compassionate services and support them heart, mind and Alma (soul).

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