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Santa Barbara’s Mental Wellness Center beats mental health issues with drumming

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Vicente Garcia leads a drumming circle at the Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center each week. 
“There's different instruments, there's movement, there's people dancing, there's people singing, there's people picking up a new instrument. And so drumming helps us all the way around to work on getting out of our comfort zone, experiencing something new. It brings people together. It helps us work on our memory, on our concentration, on our focus,” said Assistant Director of Wellness and Recovery Programs Vicente Garcia.
As the Assistant Director of Wellness and Recovery Programs, Garcia  infuses mental health check ins with a variety of different drumming beats that participants can play along to. 
“Every rhythm has its own vibration and its own form of healing. And for some people, some faster rhythms work better than some slower rhythms. For other people, slower rhythms work better than faster rhythms,” said Garcia.
Participants share all sorts of struggles with each other from stories of anxiety and depression to experiences of isolation. 
“When we did our check in, I had mentioned I felt a little all over the place like I was having an off day. Just society was all over the place, was hungry, it was tired and just felt weird. And after drum circle, I feel like I was able to just beat out all of those odd heartbeats that I had today and channel it into something purposeful. So I feel relieved,” said Mental Wellness Center Family Advocate Marissa Boyer.
After each drumming session the group shares how they feel, with the 2 hour session ending with what action they plan to take to focus on their mental wellbeing. 
Many report feeling calmer, more joyful, and better able to focus.
“You need an inspiration to get better. You just can't say a pill's going to do it. Your soul has to get well, too,” said Mental Wellness Center Visitor Violetta Montes.

Participants here also say drumming helps them connect themselves with their inner animal. 
“The animals around us teach us to be in the present moment,” said Garcia.

The drumming circle takes place every Wednesday at the mental wellness center on Garden Street from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
It is free to join.

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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