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Taking Care of Mind, Body and Spirit

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By Joe Starling

Black History Month is a chance for us to honor the contributions of People of Color who have championed equality, justice and diversity in society. Black History Month also serves as an opportunity to examine current issues that People of Color face. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health struggles and their consequences have generated conversations about the importance of personal wellness. It’s important to understand, however, that key measures of mental wellness indicate that People of Color have been facing declining mental health long before the arrival of Covid-19.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the suicide rate between 2010 and 2020 for People of Color increased by 2.3. This was the second highest rate of increase among races/ethnicities, behind American Indian and Alaskan Native populations. These same populations also saw the greatest age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths and reported the most barriers to seeking effective treatment. These numbers make clear that marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by declining mental health.

Addressing mental health at a societal level starts with taking care of our mind, body and spirit at the individual level. Faith has been found to have a positive effect on the emotional well-being of People of Color. As a faith leader of color, I see myself as a first responder to the needs of our community, and am dedicated to connecting people to the resources they need and removing barriers to successful treatment and well-being. A 2009 survey conducted by the California Mental Health and Spirituality Initiative showed that 88% of African Americans agreed that faith is an essential component to their or a close family member’s wellness.

Heritage Christian Services offers a diverse and compassionate team of success coaches, who are available to assist you at all times and connect you with the resources to meet your individual needs. Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM) is an organization dedicated to the mental healing, wellness and liberation of Black communities, providing trainings and webinars for peer supporters. People can also find therapists of color by visiting https://abpsi.org/find_psych/. These are only a handful of the resources that People of Color can access to reinforce their mental health.

Championing the rights of People of Color means ensuring that communities of color are healthy or have the resources they need to address any health and wellness challenges. The faith community inclusion team at Heritage Christian Services is dedicated to the success of all people within our agency, and also recognizes the unique challenges that People of Color face.