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California mental health initiative to fight hidden sickle cell symptoms

BURBANK, California.—Cayenne Wellness Center, which supports people with sickle cell disease in California, launched the California Sickle Cell Disease Mental Health and Wellness Initiative to provide mental health services free to people living with sickle cell disease. The initiative addresses the emotional and mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety, often faced by people living with the disease.

“Following physical symptoms, what often goes untreated in people with sickle cell disease are the overwhelming emotional challenges, such as depression, stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Carolyn Rowley, executive director of Cayenne Wellness Center. “The sickle cell community is hurting, and COVID-19 has further isolated and endangered those with the condition. It’s time to do something about it and treat the whole person.”

Physical symptoms of sickle cell disease can include pain, sleep disturbances, fatigue, infections and other physical and organ complications. Coupled with the demands of frequent hospital visits, people living with sickle cell disease often face overwhelming emotional and mental health issues that go undiagnosed and untreated. Feelings of sadness, fear, worry, nervousness, insecurity, instability and low self-esteem can decrease quality of life.

The California Sickle Cell Disease Mental Health and Wellness Initiative’s counselors, coaches and consultants will help prevent and treat mental health issues for people living with sickle cell disease. Participants will receive personalized guidance in coping with difficult emotions, overcoming fears and insecurities, improving diet and exercise, learning self-care tools and strengthening relationships with friends and family.

The initiative’s mental health therapists will provide 15 sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy to participants to treat depression and anxiety. In addition, Cayenne Wellness Center’s health coach, holistic health consultant and spiritual counselor will address the whole person to improve overall quality of life. Services can be provided in person for participants living in the Los Angeles area and remotely for those elsewhere in California.

“Sickle cell disease is more than just a blood condition. It can affect every part of your life: physical, mental and emotional, financial, social and spiritual,” Rowley said. “We can no longer stop at just treating the physical symptoms. That’s why we launched the California Sickle Cell Disease Mental Health and Wellness Initiative.”

Participants must reach out to Cayenne Wellness Center’s community health worker in their region and fill out a mental health referral form. Once completed, the participant will soon hear from one of the providers to set up their first appointment. To learn more about the California Sickle Cell Disease Mental Health and Wellness Initiative, visit

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disease causing red blood cells to take a sickle shape, which leads to blockages that prevent blood from reaching parts of the body. As a result, people with sickle cell complications can experience anemia, jaundice, gallstones, stroke, chronic pain, organ damage, and premature death. No universal cure exists. (

Cayenne Wellness Center and Children’s Foundation works to increase the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with sickle cell disease in California by ensuring expert, unbiased and comprehensive care. Based in Burbank, California, Cayenne Wellness Center provides education and awareness for health care providers, patients and the general public, maintains a grassroots network of individuals and institutions and conducts advocacy for people with sickle cell disease. (

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