LA District Attorney and African American Advisory Board Hold Mental Health Event

LA District Attorney and African American Advisory Board Hold Mental Health Event

A quick report back on an event I participated in.

On Saturday, June 1, 2024, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and his office’s African American Advisory Board, of which I am a member of, hosted a community town hall event on Black mental health and wellness.

Held at McCarty Memorial Christian Church in West Adams, “Beyond Survival: Fostering Mental Wellness in the Black Community” brought together policy makers, thought leaders, and the community to discuss psychological safety in the Black community, self and community healing amidst ongoing trauma, and available resources to support wellness.

Speakers included:

  • LA District Attorney George Gascón
  • Supervisor Holly Mitchell
  • Judge Songhai Armstead (Ret.), Director, L.A. County Justice, Care and Opportunities Department (Jcod)
  • Derek Steele, Executive Director, Social Justice Learning Institute
  • Andrea Welsing, MPH, Director, Office of Violence Prevention, Los Angeles County Department Public Health

The discussion was moderated by our board chair Dr. Ramona Merchan, Executive Director of Trauma Informed LA and Project Director with The Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection.

Black Psychological Safety

A common theme throughout the event from speakers was that the Black community’s psychological safety extends to feeling secure in one’s identity, being free from discrimination and prejudice, and having access to supportive networks and resources.

The Impact of Ongoing Trauma

The Black community continues to face various forms of trauma, including:

  • Racial Discrimination: Persistent racial biases and systemic inequalities contribute to chronic stress and anxiety.
  • Economic Disparities: Limited access to economic opportunities can lead to financial stress and associated mental health issues.
  • Violence and Incarceration: Higher rates of community violence and incarceration disrupt family structures and community cohesion.
  • Health Disparities: Unequal access to healthcare services exacerbates physical and mental health problems.

These factors collectively impact the mental health of individuals within the community, making the need for psychological safety and healing even more critical.

LA District Attorney and African American Advisory Board Hold Mental Health Event

Me with my African American Advisory Board Colleagues and McCarty Memorial Christian Church Pastor Eddie Anderson.

Me with LA DIstrict Attorney George Gascón.

Self and Community Healing

Self and community healing was really bog among the speakers and the audience.

It was agreed that healing from trauma is a multifaceted process that involves both individual and collective efforts. 

Some of the strategies for self and community healing touched on included:

Self-Healing

  1. Seek Professional Help: Engage with mental health professionals who understand and respect the cultural context of the Black community. Therapy can provide a safe space to process trauma and develop coping strategies.
  2. Practice Self-Care: Incorporate self-care routines into daily life, such as mindfulness, meditation, physical exercise, and adequate rest.
  3. Build a Support Network: Connect with friends, family, and community members who offer emotional support and understanding.

Community Healing

  1. Create Safe Spaces: Establish community centers, support groups, and forums where individuals can share their experiences and support each other.
  2. Promote Mental Health Education: Increase awareness about mental health issues and resources through workshops, seminars, and outreach programs.
  3. Advocate for Change: Engage in advocacy efforts to address systemic issues that impact mental health, such as racial discrimination, economic inequality, and access to healthcare.

Supervisor Mitchell spoke about her various motions and work that was centered around making sure that these services were available to the community.

Thank you to the LA District Attorney’s Office for making it possible and congrats to my colleagues on the board for making it happen and always centering the needs of our community in the most thoughtful way! 

Links to Resources

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