Facing Depression Head On

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Mental Health
Music Therapy

With the Right Treatment Plan and an Outlet to Express His Emotions, Cruz Faced His Depression Head On

This wasn’t the first time 20-year-old Cruz Ayala felt overwhelmed. He had been suffering from severe depression for months and there was no relief in sight, even after several attempts at treatment.

“I needed a place where I could focus on getting the right medication and block out the worries of the world,” said Cruz.

He turned to the MemorialCare Center for Mental Health & Wellness at Community Hospital Long Beach, which offers crisis intervention and treatment for people like Cruz, who are experiencing severe mental health symptoms.

Cruz was admitted to the psychiatric acute treatment program, where he worked with his physicians to create a treatment plan, which included a medication that was successful in treating his depression.

While in the Center for Mental Health & Wellness, Cruz participated in various types of therapy, including group and individual, led by a team of supportive nurses and therapists.

A guitar player since the age of 10, Cruz also found comfort in the creative arts therapy offered at the Center for Mental Health & Wellness.

“Music therapy is an integral part of mental health treatment, as it provides a safe container for the exploration of thoughts and feelings,” says Lisa Jackert, MA, MT-BC, music therapist, Center for Mental Health & Wellness, Community Hospital Long Beach.

“If I was playing the guitar or drawing, I was able to express how I was feeling at that moment,” says Cruz. “If I was mad I could draw that, if I was happy I could express that.”

“For Cruz, he was able to use his song writing skills to enhance his treatment as the songs were a safe way to more deeply experience and process his issues,” says Jackert. “Because music is processed in the same part of the brain as where our emotions are stored, patients are able to ‘sing’ about how they have the opportunity for greater insight, personal growth and transformation. Dance/movement therapy also can provide this, as both music and dance are experiential therapies that allow patients the freedom of creative expression and offer the option of non-verbal expression.”

Cruz’s recovery went beyond the help of his care team; even his family took extra steps to ensure they created a solid support system for him by going to a local support group to learn more about mental illness and how to help Cruz through his tough moments.

With the right treatment plan, an outlet to express his emotions and a great support system, Cruz was discharged after one week.

Cruz continued to work on his recovery by attending multiple support groups including the Alumni Aftercare Support Group at Community Hospital Long Beach, which is facilitated by a trained therapist and designed to assist former patients who want to share resources, work on the obstacles of daily life and build self-esteem.

He also entered the Mental Health America Village Transitional Age Youth Academy in Long Beach that focuses on helping young adults with mental illness fully integrate into the community. With an emphasis on employment and education, the academy encourages discovery on the journey to recovery and a higher quality of life through continued therapy, coping skills and job placement assistance.

Today, knowing that he’s faced depression head on, Cruz works and attends Long Beach City College where he’s studying language with the hopes of one day being a professional translator.