In the short span from February to September 2020, “the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed,” according to the 2021 The State of Health America study conducted by nonprofit Mental Health America. According to the report, this has been particularly true in Black communities.
Dr. Brittany Peters, owner of the Center for Wellness & Clinical Development, hosted the second annual “State of Black Mental Health” webinar, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Breakfast Club, on Wednesday July, 28 at 6:30 p.m. featuring community leaders and mental health professionals.
“How does trauma really show up in a community?” Brother John Muhammad, President of Childs Park Neighborhood Association, opened the discussion with this question.
“COVID complicated access [to treatment], but we think about how hard it is already to get our community to talk about mental health,” Peters said.
Peters mentioned that a lot of people in the Black community rely on stand-ins for professional mental health help, turning to community spaces like barbershops and churches to find solace and avoid the stigma associated with mental health.
“Those resources were depleted because those businesses were closing, or our doctors were not available. We couldn’t get to them until everybody got on Telehealth. We couldn’t necessarily go to the clinics or the places we might look for some assistance before, because they too were dealing with the issues and the setbacks as a result of COVID,” said Judge Alicia Latimore. “Not just do we have a problem, but we had a difficult time getting help with the problem.”
Mental health therapist Pernell Bush said that the murder of George Floyd sparked communal trauma within the Black community. Seeing the media coverage led to physiological responses and activated trauma.
“Young people feel a stall between the already and the not yet. And they are not hopeful about what is to come, and that adds to that generational curse that we’re struggling with,” Reverend Kenneth F. Irby, Director of Community Intervention and Juvenile Outreach for the St. Petersburg Police Department said.
According to Bush, it is imperative to foster a healthy, trusting relationship between kids and at least one adult. Bush said a child only needs one healthy adult buffer to change the way they deal with trauma and to open up their avenues of trust.
“We are all each other’s responsibility,” Peters said in closing.
Find the whole discussion at TampaBayBreakfastClub on Facebook. Read more about the Center for Wellness & Clinical Development here. Find other emergency and other mental health service available here.