Heal Self, Heal Others: Nurturing the Heart and Spirit Through Mental Health Support
A recent initiative has emerged in the heart of California’s Central Valley to provide mental health support and healing. Based in Stockton, Healing Pilipinx Uplifting Self & Others (P.U.S.O) aims to uplift the heart and spirit of the Pilipinx community while normalizing mental health through holistic health programs and culturally-rooted healing.
Founded in 2020 as a program within Little Manila Rising, a nonprofit serving the South Stockton community, Healing P.U.S.O encourages the community to “heal self, heal others” and believes that as people work on healing their inner selves, they build a stronger foundation to help others.
“For Fil-Ams, it’s important for us to understand mental health because it can help educate our own families who may not have the language to understand it,” said Hannah Divino, Holistic Health Director and founder of Healing P.U.S.O. “But it also shouldn’t be our own burden to carry all the healing work. There are healthy ways to process generational trauma, set boundaries, and do what we can to take care of ourselves first before taking care of others.”
One of the unique aspects of Healing P.U.S.O is its focus on culturally-rooted and community-centered healing practices and providing a safe and inclusive space for community members to explore mental health needs.
Holistic Wellness Coordinator Daisha offers daily sound healing on Instagram Live and hosts weekly virtual culturally-rooted healing sessions where attendees from as far as Canada can share stories and express what is on their hearts and minds without judgment.
“We tend to put the traditional healing modalities on the back burner, but we need to bring it to the forefront. This is how our people have healed for generations and why we continue to grow,” Daisha said. “A huge percentage of healing practitioners are not representative of our communities. We want to uplift healers who look like us and share the same experiences.”
In addition to its holistic programming, Healing P.U.S.O. offers free to low-cost assistance, including resource connections, behavioral health referrals, mental health education, and one-on-one social and emotional support strictly from a non-clinical lens that can serve as a valuable first step for those interested or hesitant about therapy.
An integral aspect of Healing P.U.S.O.’s work is collecting data representative of the Filipinx community. In partnership with California State University San Bernardino and Arizona State University, Healing P.U.S.O. conducted a research study on Filipinx Intergenerational Health and Wellness to address the prevalent mental and physical health disparities in the community by surveying perspectives on mental health, healing, and wellness among Filipinx American families in San Joaquin County. The community-based participatory action research study will help recommend culturally-responsive, healing-centered interventions and develop programs to promote positive mental health and well-being among Filipinx.
“People try to see mental and physical health as separate, but they are interconnected. If you have a family member who has a physical illness, people will try to help them, but someone going through a mental health crisis wouldn’t get the same treatment. If we treat mental health the same as physical health, we would be saving lives,” Divino said.
Led by Health Programs Assistant Graschelle Hipolito, Healing P.U.S.O. holds a wellness circle for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) students at San Joaquin Delta College and continues to witness the impact of their work.
“We hosted a mindful painting exercise at one of our wellness workshops. One of the students in attendance expressed how affirming it was to be in our space,” Hipolito said. “They had started as an art major, but because of family pressure, they switched to a STEM major. Through our workshop, they were able to do something they were passionate about again and reconnect with their purpose.”
As a partner of 209 Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC), Healing P.U.S.O. helps mobilize organizations and individuals for justice and progressive change through an intersectional lens. The coalition also hosts a bi-annual Asian Health and Healing Clinic, providing multiple health and holistic healing services such as medical screenings, acupuncture, hilot (traditional Filipino massage technique), sound healing, and reiki free of charge to the community. Deeply committed to community safety and solidarity, Healing P.U.S.O. organizes to Stop AAPI Hate and has advocated for policies, including The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act (AB 490), which prohibits all police restraint techniques leading to positional asphyxia.
Looking ahead, Healing P.U.S.O hopes to further its work by employing an in-house therapist to offer free and affordable clinical work and grow its staff to provide more holistic and naturopathic services.
“When people come to any of our events, I hope they gain the self-confidence to choose themselves, prioritize how they feel, and ultimately what they do for themselves is what’s going to make the biggest impact,” Daisha said.