Guest Column: Minority Mental Health w/ Monica Johnson

July is National Minority Mental Health Month. Per the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), this designation was created to raise awareness of the unique struggles that racial & ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Mental Health Care and Our Youth

Like so many aspects of our lives right now, end of school year “traditions” have been adjusted, disrupted, and compromised.

While I have personally experienced the frustration and disappointment of these limitations, I have also been impressed to witness the creative solutions that led to unexpected joy: intimate graduations, drive-in slide shows in school parking lots to celebrate the school year, prom dresses with matching masks. The resilience of students, teachers, and administrators is boundless.

Welcome to Spring!

March was replete with lookbacks and milestone markers acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the events when COVID became “real” for each of us. While we might recognize a different day or a specific moment as the beginning of this new reality, together, we have shared a collective historical experience that was also deeply personal.

Exhausted? Good News Can Recharge

On any given day, it’s easy to feel burdened by the weight of the global pandemic, anxious about the uncertainties of COVID-19, and restricted by the limitations it spawned. It’s understandable if you find yourself in a constant cycle of frustration and disappointment.

In a time like this one, it becomes essential to celebrate the moments of hope and joy that break through grim milestones and the feelings of isolation or grief.

Good news can recharge us on our exhausting days and accelerate our optimism. Amidst the challenges that remain pressing and real, we have received good news, and it bears repeating.

2021: I See The Light

For all of us worn down by the events of 2020, the New Year has so far offered little relief. Where we thought we might turn the page from 2020 on January 1, we found the same, tiring tests on our energy and optimism: COVID-19 infection rates soared, our healthcare system reached a new level of overburdened and lines swelled at food banks as Americans continued to suffer through the economic consequences of a global pandemic.

The 2020 OBHPFG Holiday Cookbook

Welcome to the DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention & Federal Grants Holiday Cookbook. This has been a very difficult year for most of us and our office wanted to share the holiday spirit from our family and friends across the state with you. We wanted to help you get in the holiday spirit and shed some of those “bah humbug” feelings you may have.

The 2020 Word of the Year

I learned this week that the word of the year for 2020 is “pandemic”—not exactly breaking news. I can certainly acknowledge the power that this pandemic has had over our lives in 2020. And yet I want to offer my own word of the year for 2020, and that word is “hope.” For me, our individual and collective sense of hope has also been a driving force in 2020. As we engage in a very different holiday season than our traditional one, I aim to celebrate this gift of hope.

Dig Deep

November brings the opportunity to reflect on both service and gratitude, as we celebrate both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. While so many elements of life are viewed differently in 2020, there are a few constants to be honored, including these very special holidays. Each one is important to Americans, and I have always admired the way these two holidays illuminate the human experience and remind us of the ways in which we bring out the best in each other.

Time for an Update: A Slice of our Work

Hello friends, colleagues and supporters. We seem to have turned the page to fall with the emergence of pumpkins, football and changing leaves. These are reminders that despite the uncertainty that has characterized 2020, elements of our existence roll forward, albeit with new practices and precautions, and new opportunities as well. Conversations with friends, partners and stakeholders that rely on DBHDD and our provider network have challenged me to acknowledge the exhaustion and unpredictability we have experienced, and at the same time embrace the joy of small pleasures and reinvigorate our safety net mission.

COVID-19: The Work Ahead

As we approach the six-month mark since the “Shelter in Place” order, you may be, like me, experiencing a diverse range of emotions on any given day, or any given hour. In March, many of us presumed we would be “over” this pandemic by now. With eyes wide open, we have come to recognize that “over” and “past” are probably not the right words to capture our understanding of COVID-19. Multiple elements of daily life for our staff, providers and the people we serve have been fundamentally altered and we have been challenged to adapt almost everything we do.