In honor of our diverse populations, let us celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month by embracing the opportunity to discuss safe spaces for healing in our health system. As a healing community, we must recognize the diverse needs of our colleagues and the folx* we serve. Diverse populations vary in how folx identify their race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, identity, religion, and socioeconomic status. They consistently report unmet needs attributed to the lack of culturally relevant treatment approaches. Inconsistent cultural responsiveness perpetuates oppression, discrimination, and risk factors for health care disparities. For our transgender folx, “Daily experiences of anti-trans- gender stigma, prejudice, and discrimination become internalized and ultimately affect psychological health. An estimated 40% of all transgender people have attempted suicide” (Kota, K. K., Salazar, L. F., Culbreth, R. E., Crosby, R. A., & Jones, J. 2020). The CDC reports, “Demographic disparities in suicide persist, as evidenced by increasing rates among persons aged 25–34 years, Hispanic males, and non-Hispanic multiracial females” (CDC, 2022). Among Black folx, “suicide rates peak during adolescence and young adulthood, as in the overall U.S. population, the suicide death rate for men is more than three times the rate for women in Black populations. The suicide death rate for the overall U.S. population is approximately double that of Black populations for both males and females” (SPRC, 2021).
With the average number of people seeking out mental health care increasing, professionals are being spread thin to cover the high demand. In 2019, 24.7% of adults in the United States who reported suffering from a mental illness, also reported having an unmet need for treatment (Mental Health America, 2022). With this increase in individuals and communities seeking mental health care, current providers have been struggling to manage the influx of clients looking for help.
Although the workforce is diminished, together, we can mitigate adverse outcomes through consistent culturally responsive practices, and by offering allyship. Anna Corbitt, a Youth and Family Specialist at Paraquad, describes an ally as, “…someone who supports the cause of a marginalized group — women, people of color, people with disabilities, people in the LGBTQ community, people with low income, etc. — and uses their privilege to learn from that group and amplify their cause”, Corbitt, 2016
Benefits of Allyship
Allyship creates safe spaces for healing for both consumers and the workforce. “Being an ally and incorporating allyship to various parts of my professional and personal life has given me a chance to experience the hardships and triumphs associated with the communities around me”, Liv Randlett. We must stand together in allyship to improve outcomes in our communities.
We can incorporate allyship in practice as a healing community through empowerment, advocacy, and education. Allyship embraces the opportunity to lean into our work, learn about ourselves, and celebrate differences. Allyship is an acceptance that equity requires continuous process improvement.
The 3 B’s for consistent Allyship in our healing community
1. (B)e Mindful that sharing something difficult or uncomfortable in the open can be vulnerable moment. Appreciate feedback as a learning opportunity. Best practice includes recognizing our personal bias through self-awareness and reflection to ensure effective engagement with diverse populations.
2. (B)e Willing to recognize there is a lot you don’t know and be open to finding out more. We encourage you to actively seek out knowledge, learn from the lived experiences of others, and consult with colleagues.
3. (B)e Engaged – Hold space to understand a concerning situation or unmet need of our diverse communities. Collaborate on solutions and be consistent with resolutions.
We hope this month’s spotlight on diversity encourages you to consider leaning into a personal journey of introspection and growth within our healing community. Let’s work together to understand and celebrate diversity, striving to be “Culturally Responsive Allys for Change”!
*Folx: “term used to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups commonly marginalized” – Merriam-Webster online dictionary
Black populations. Black Populations | Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.sprc.org/scope/racial-ethnic-disparities/black-populations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 24). Changes in suicide rates – United States, 2019 and 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7108a5.htm
Corbitt, A. (2016, July 21). How to be an ally of the Disability Community. Paraquad. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.paraquad.org/blog/how-to-be-an-ally-of-the-disability-community/#:~:text=In%20summary%2C%20an%20ally%20is,group%20and%20amplify%20their%20cause.
Kota, K. K., Salazar, L. F., Culbreth, R. E., Crosby, R. A., & Jones, J. (2020). Psychosocial mediators of perceived stigma and suicidal ideation among transgender women. BMC Public Health, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8177-z
Mental Health America. (2022). The state of Mental Health in America. Mental Health America. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). FOLX definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/folx