Director of Client Services
FamilyTime & Crisis Counseling Center.
Robin Gandara is a Licensed Professional Counselor and serves as Director of Client Services for FamilyTime Crisis & Counseling Center, overseeing all client-based, direct service programs within the agency, including counseling, shelter services, case management and FamilyTime’s 24-hour support line.
Robin directs her work by focusing on culturally responsive and trauma-informed practices to foster hope, healing, and resilience for all.
As we recognize National Minority Mental Health Month, observed throughout July, we are pleased to present an interview with Robin Gandara, the Director of FamilyTime Crisis & Counseling Center.
Their organization was established in 1977 and is dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being in the community, as well as preventing domestic and sexual violence by providing safety and support. According to the CDC, around one in five US adults have a mental illness. While mental health issues can often be treated and prevented, not everyone can access the necessary resources. Certain racial and ethnic minority groups encounter more challenges than others when it comes to receiving mental health care. Throughout our discussion, we will explore the obstacles that minorities face when seeking mental health services.
Could you provide more information about the services and programs that FamilyTime Crisis & Counseling provides, as well as the locations they serve?
FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center is a non-profit organization established in 1977. We offer counseling to individuals in the community through our Residential Services, which can be accessed virtually or in person. Our counseling services are available for children, adults, and couples, including emergency services to women and men who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. We offer our community, various classes, and support groups, such as CPS-approved classes, parenting and finance classes, and domestic violence support groups, among others. Additionally, we have a shelter and a 24/7 support hotline. Our services are available to residents in Liberty County, Montgomery County, and other nearby areas without any geographical restriction.
How do FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Centers address the mental health needs of minority communities?
Minority groups often face obstacles that prevent their access to mental health services, and we work to ease these barriers. We are aware of the difficulties faced by minority groups in locating mental health providers and are dedicated to easing this process by helping them find available resources.
Many avoid seeking mental health care due to the high cost of services and lack of insurance. However, our program offers counseling services at an affordable price through a sliding scale or even free of charge. We strive to ensure that finances never become a barrier to receiving the care that individuals need.
In your experience, what mental health challenges or obstacles are commonly faced by minority groups? Do you think mental health issues more impact minority groups than the general population?
Minority groups with mental health issues often experience more serious and long-term consequences due to facing more challenges than others in accessing mental health services (APA, 2017). The stigma surrounding mental health can also prevent these groups from seeking help, as cultural attitudes and beliefs may discourage them from speaking freely and openly. Language and cultural barriers may further complicate their ability to access healthcare services.
How can mental health professionals and counselors be better prepared to address the needs and experiences of minority individuals?
To effectively meet the needs of minority groups who speak different languages, mental health professionals and counselors must overcome language barriers. Having staff who speak different languages can help individuals feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Additionally, mental health professionals and counselors must receive training in cultural competence and intercultural communications. This helps them understand other cultures and values.
Do you have any advice or recommendations for individuals or families from minority backgrounds who might be hesitant to seek mental health support?
It is important to recognize that seeking help takes courage, and anyone who does so should feel proud of themselves. It is also important to know that it’s okay to meet with a counselor and to make sure they are a good fit and that they will stay with that counselor. We always encourage individuals to try, make that appointment, meet with the counselor, tell them what they’re experiencing, and allow them to inform us about how counseling will look out for them. If that person is not a good fit, that is okay. There are so many individuals out there and many types of counselors. You might not always find the best fit on the first come around. You have the option; you never will be forced to do anything you don’t want to, you won’t be forced to talk about anything you don’t want to, and you, as the client, have the power to make those decisions.
Could you provide more information about FamilyTime’s support Hotline and Shelter?
FamilyTime has a 24-hour support hotline for anyone who needs it. The number is 281-446-2615. A live individual provides the line for anyone in crisis or who has experienced abuse. We receive calls from Individuals who think they are in an unhealthy relationship, but they are not quite sure. Received calls from individuals that have suffered a sexual assault, and they are not sure of what to do or what would be the next step. We also receive calls from people who are falling apart, don’t have anybody to talk to, and may be thinking about suicide. We always encourage individuals who are struggling to utilize our support line.
FamilyTime operates a shelter that offers a safe environment for men, women, and their children who are victims of family violence and sexual assault. The shelter provides a nurturing and secure environment for those seeking refuge.