SummitStone Health Partners places high importance on being a place where our all our staff, clients, and partners are comfortable.  For decades, SummitStone has had committees focused on this work.  Our current committee is J.E.D.I.S. (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at SummitStone).  J.E.D.I.S. is comprised of staff members from across our agency, as well as a consumer voice.  Its purpose is to examine our system and propose any improvements necessary to make our agency just, equitable, diverse and inclusive for all.

JEDIS Cultural Responsiveness

J.E.D.I.S. recognizes that behavioral healthcare disparities exist across the many different strata that comprise “culture,” such as language, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, sex and gender, socioeconomic status, age, and ability status. We also recognize the influence that culture has on many issues related to behavioral health care, including barriers to service, attitudes towards recovery, beliefs about mental illness and substance use/addictions, and help-seeking behaviors. Culture also influences our staff and the communities that we serve.  With this in mind, the goals of J.E.D.I.S. are:

  • Create, review and update a E.D.I. I Strategic Plan that feeds into the SummitStone Strategic Plan.
  • Complete and utilize assessments to determine needs and create a strategic plan.
  • Make recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team and the Board regarding J.E.D.I. topics, such as changes to policies and procedures, etc., in the following areas:
    • Internal, staff focus
    • External, client and community focus
    • Training around E.D.I. issues

SummitStone Health Partners prioritizes justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.  We know that these values are essential for us to fulfill our mission of providing unsurpassed behavioral health services, including prevention, intervention, and treatment.

Our foundation is built on justice and equity. We understand the realities of discrimination and oppression that people have experienced personally, institutionally, and systemically throughout history and today.  We work to recognize when this injustice occurs and challenge it head on. We also promote equity within our sphere of influence so that one’s identity and circumstances do not limit their access to what they need. We recognize that true equity takes time, and we are putting in the time.

SummitStone is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, honoring each individual’s whole self by embracing differences in race, ethnicity, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic status, language, and the inherent intersections of many different identities.

We strive to celebrate the incredible diversity found in our employees, the people we serve, and our communities at large, including their culture, heritage, and traditions. The communities we serve are founded in diverse perspectives and histories, and we understand the importance of being champions for our community.

We are committed to taking action on these values by listening, training, continually learning, implementing change, and transparently tracking success.  This is not just philosophy for us.  Our intention is to make the necessary changes to truly create a climate where everyone feels like they belong.

SummitStone is dedicated to promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion. Diversity is more than a commitment at SummitStone- it is the foundation of what we do. We are fully pledged to equity and believe deeply in diversity of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and national origin. At SummitStone we have a clear vision: to be the place where a diverse mix of talented people want to come, to stay and do their best work.

Mental Health Resources & Information

Since 2008, when Congress established July as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, it has been a great opportunity to highlight the need to both promote public awareness of mental health conditions among communities of color and improve access to mental health care treatment for members of minority groups.

In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Who was Bebe Moore Campbell?

Bebe Moore Campbell was an author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.

Campbell was the author of three New York Times bestsellers: Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times “Best Book of 2001”. She received NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature. Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.

Her debut novelYour Blues Ain’t Like Mine, was published in 1992. Inspired by the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, it followed the aftermath of the killing of a black Chicago boy by a white man in Mississippi. Campbell continued to broach issues of race in novels such as Brothers and Sisters (1994), in which the African American protagonist must navigate the complexities of racism and sexism in the corporate world; Singing in the Comeback Choir (1998), which illustrates the sometimes jarring shift in values catalyzed by the social mobility of young black professionals; and What You Owe Me (2001), the story of a betrayed friendship between an African American woman and a Holocaust survivor. The novel 72 Hour Hold (2005) chronicles the efforts of a mother trying to help an adult daughter suffering from bipolar disorder.

In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to end stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort.

The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups.

Support continued to build as Campbell and Wharton-Boyd held book signings, spoke in churches and created a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce of friends and allies. However, the effort came to a halt when Campbell became too ill to continue.

When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd, friends, family and allied advocates reignited their cause, inspired by the passion of the life of an extraordinary woman.

The group researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who co-signed legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.

Sources: NAMI, Wikipedia, Britannica

RESOURCES:

BeBe Moore Campbell reads from her novel, 72 Hour Hold

NAMI Urban Los Angeles Cofounder Nancy Carter tells the story of how she and her friend and colleague Bebe Moore Campbell started their NAMI affiliate and Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

NAMI, the national Alliance on Mental Illness, explains the history of Minority Mental Health Month

The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health is offering a free and accredited e-learning program for Behavioral Health Professionals. This site also includes a vast collection of data related to Mental health Disparities, and an extensive list of Mental Health Resources and Publications

Mental Health America explains the term BIPOC, meaning Black, Indigenous, People of Color, which is “meant to unite all people of color while intentionally acknowledging that not all people of color face the same levels of injustice [or trauma].” The organization is committed to using this term and phasing out the use of the term “minority” in all of their materials.

This site includes a wealth of statistics and information related to Healthcare Disparities and Policy Issues Relevant to Special Populations

Published in Self magazine, this article compiles Mental Health Resources for Black People including Instagram influencers, organizations and groups and directories for finding a Black mental health practitioner and tips to keep in mind when seeking mental health support.

Pride and LBTQ+ monthCelebrate Pride Month in June

Happy Pride, everyone! Among other things, June is the month in which we take pride in being our true and authentic selves. We celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride in June because on June 28, 1969, Trans Women of Color, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, led a protest at the Stonewall Inn. During what came to be known as the Stonewall Riots.

LGBTQIA+ individuals fought back during a routine police raid and arrest of people they found to be not wearing three articles of clothing “appropriate” to their assigned sex at birth (which was a legal statute at the time). This night is often credited for beginning the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and is widely celebrated. However, the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights has a long history prior to 1969. For example, as early as the 1950s, advocacy groups (e.g., Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis) were opposing job discrimination; and LBGTQIA+ people at restaurants (e.g., San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria, Philadelphia’s Dewey’s Restaurant, and Los Angeles’ Black Cat Tavern) were demanding access to public accommodations and freedom from police harassment.

Fast forward to the year 2021, there is plenty to celebrate yet also plenty of reason to continue the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights. Unfortunately, this year has seen many anti-LGBTQIA+ bills come across various state legislatures. Eight such bills have already been enacted and 10 are awaiting governors’ signatures. Specifically, the bills ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams, deny transgender youth the gender-affirming medical care they need, and allow businesses and physicians to use religious beliefs as justification for discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. Astonishingly, lawmakers have pushed 109 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills  so far this year (more than last year or the year before).

However, despite this legalization of discrimination and deliberate harm, there has been progress in state legislatures as well. In our own state of Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis (the first openly gay governor in the U.S.) signed a bill into law  prohibiting foster care service providers from discriminating against prospective foster or adoptive parents and youth based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, as well as other identities. Another bill on its way to being signed by Gov. Polis adds definitions of gender identity and gender expression to state nondiscrimination law in housing, public accommodations, employment, and more. Additionally, Virginia and Maryland passed bills banning the so-called “panic defense” (a legal strategy that has been used to defend violence against the LGBTQIA+ community by claiming that a perpetrator’s discovery of an LGBTQIA person’s gender identity or sexual orientation provoked their violence toward that person because the perpetrator feared for their own safety and had reduced rational decision-making capacity). Ohio and New Jersey also recently improved access to securing accurate identification on official documents for transgender and nonbinary people, making it easier for them to make appropriate changes on documents if needed. For more information on these positive advances, please see this link.

The fight continues … as does hope for the future. As Harvey Milk (LGBTQIA+ rights activist and first openly gay man elected to public office in California) said, “Hope will never be silent.” And neither will we. We hope you find a way to honor Pride month in a way that fits for you. Please see below for relevant resources and activities and events, and please reach out to us on the JEDIS committee with any questions or if you need support.

RESOURCES:

https://www.nocoequality.org/

https://www.healthdistrict.org/splash

https://one-colorado.org/

Immigrant and refugees are often faced with an increase in emotional disturbancesImmigrant and refugees are often faced with an increase in emotional disturbances. This is often due to the difficult circumstances in their homeland (which likely led to the decision to emigrate); separation from family/friends and culture, difficult journeys to the United States, and detention in camps, etc. Additionally, following their arrival in the United States, stressors can include discrimination, poverty, underfunded schools, lack of cultural competency among providers, and the challenges of assimilation, etc.

As a result of traumas and stressors faced by this population, studies have shown that they are at a higher risk for mental health problems. However, immigrants and refugees generally face barriers to access of mental health services and are frequently underserved; for example, Latino and Asian immigrants used mental health services at half the rate of U.S.-born members of the same racial-ethnic groups.

What can we do as mental health workers?

Work towards behavioral health equitylearn how to get involved with minority mental health, and learn more about individual experiences.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Foundation, July is minority mental health month. They use their platform to elevate voices for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. In a graphic published by Mental Health America it says ”18.3% of the U.S. Population is estimated to be Latino or Hispanic, over 16% reported having a mental illness in the past year.”

This year is a little different than most. Communities are also having to overcome dealing with COVID-19 and how that Is impacting them. This pandemic has put these oppressed communities into more stress because of the disadvantage with access to healthcare.  SAMHSA which is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration wrote, “Given the existing impediments to care for Blacks and Latinos due to social determinants of health, COVID-19 pandemic will place those with behavioral health problems at even higher vulnerability.” This correlates to the many individuals experiencing homelessness or have been previously incarcerated which also puts them at a high risk of suffering the repercussions of COVID-19.

What can we do to help on a communication and awareness level?

Language translation – English language is constantly changing based on new healthcare information, translation and comprehension are important.

Culturally tailoring messages – communication of concepts is not typically the same across different cultures and background and appropriate measures can be taken in effort to make others comfortable.

Established communication channels – information channels, TV, radio can vary across communities so updates of COVID testing, healthcare services and federal updates are not as available.

Inclusion and diversity in the workplace

Please take a moment to view this video that features people from a variety of backgrounds and identities (race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, family life, etc.) describe how they have felt excluded in the workplace and how they are working to empower themselves to make change in the workplace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVasYQ_fND8

While Black Americans may not experience mental illness at a higher rate than other races, studies show barriers and access to behavioral health care remain an issue for this community. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.7 of non-Hispanic Blacks received mental health services in the past year compared to 18.6 percent of whites. Why is this? Some reasons may include stigma, lack of provider cultural competence, distrust (based on historical experimentation on Black people and other People of Color – POC), lack of providers and specifically, providers of color, provider bias, barriers to care, health inequity, etc.

Furthermore, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are more likely to experience “symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness, hopelessness, and feeling like everything is an effort. Black adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above it.”

Lastly, racial trauma contributes to higher rates of PTSD among People of Color, including Black Americans. According to Monnica T. Williams, PhD, ABPP, is a board-certified clinical psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Psychological Sciences, “racial trauma can result from major experiences of racism such as workplace discrimination or hate crimes, or it can be the result of an accumulation of many small occurrences, such as everyday discrimination and microaggressions.” https://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-128

What can we do as mental health workers?

Educate Yourself. Learn what systemic racism and its impact is.

Active Listening and Reflecting. Actively listen and engage when clients of color discuss how systemic racism impacts their wellbeing and mental health.

Staying Connected. Encourage POC to connect with their community for support.

Please see the following resources for additional information:

Stress & Trauma Toolkit for Treating African Americans in a Changing Political and Social Environment https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/stress-and-trauma/african-americans

The Loveland Foundation is the official continuation of this effort to bring opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls. Through fellowships, residency programs, listening tours, and more, ultimately we hope to contribute to both the empowerment and the liberation of the communities we serve. https://thelovelandfoundation.org/about/