Tag Archives: Advocate

Champion of Minority Mental Health: Bebe Moore Campbell

In May 2008, the United States House of Representatives declared July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and BIPOC* Mental Health Awareness Month.  This declaration was the result of advocate and author Bebe Moore Campbell seeking to highlight mental health concerns in minority communities, particularly the Black community, as well as the disparities in treatment and mortality in these communities compared to white communities.

Bebe Moore Campbell was a teacher, journalist, and best-selling author, writing for publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Essence and Ebony before transitioning to fiction novel writing.  Although fiction was her focus in the 1990s, she wrote about the stereotyping of Black people, and countered them by choosing to paint her characters as wealthy and successful.  She also focused on real events impacting the Black community, such as the lynching of Emmett Till.

Moore Campbell first focused on mental health in the Black community through the writing of her children’s book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, highlighting a little girl’s experience of growing up with a mentally ill mother.  She was awarded an Outstanding Media Award for Literature by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for this book in 2003.  She followed up with The 72-Hour Hold, referencing the typical length of time someone is placed under an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization order.  This book focused on bipolar disorder, and was inspired by a family member of Bebe.

Bebe Moore Campbell was also a founding member of the NAMI Inglewood chapter, which expanded into the NAMI Urban Los Angeles Chapter in California.  She advocated by speaking out against stigma of mental illness, and promoted treatment and education in communities of color, and used her platform to push this agenda into the focus of mainstream society.  She assembled a taskforce along with her friend, Linda Wharton-Boyd, to push legislation to spread awareness, encourage mental health checkups, access to medications, community mental health services, and declaration of a minority mental health awareness month.  Sadly, Bebe Moore Campbell abruptly became ill with brain cancer, and lost her battle with the disease in November 2006.  Wharton-Boyd continued the rally for an awareness month, and Representatives Albert Wynn of Maryland and Diane Watson of California co-signed legislation, which passed.

Although strides have been made to reduce stigma and connect people to mental health care, more work is still to be done in BIPOC* communities.  An American Psychological Association report found that in 2015, only 4% of psychologists are Black, 5% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian.  Roughly 30% of Black and Hispanic adults living with mental illness actually receive care, and there is continued lack of access to medications and preventative community mental health care.  We can honor Bebe Moore Campbell’s efforts by striving for inclusivity and wide reaching access to care, and continued advocacy efforts against stigma, and for prevention to curb the need for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations.  Equity in mental health care is wellness for us all!

 

For resources, information and statistics related to minority mental health, check out:

Learn About Minority Mental Health Month

Bebe Moore Campbell Was the Champion for Mental Health We Need Right Now

Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations 

National Alliance on Mental Health

Black Mental Health Matters (resources) 

Black Mental Health Alliance 

Mental Health Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)

BIPOC Mental Health

Mental and Behavioral Health-Hispanics

National Latino Behavioral Health Association 

 

*Black and Indigenous Persons of Color

 

How to Be Supportive Without “Fixing”

It is very human to want to help someone, particularly someone you care about, when you see them stressed out or in pain.  It is also very human to seek validation for your own experiences.  Can you recall a time you needed to be heard, and someone told you what you “should” do instead?  Not very helpful, huh?

As illustrated in the short video below, we can use empathy to be present for others during their struggles as to not fall into “fixing” mode- although well-intentioned, unless your thoughts and advice are requested, you should avoid giving them as to not alienate the person opening up to you, because advice may not be what they are seeking, or what they feel they need right then.  Do not assume what they may need- ask them how you can help them in the moment to support their feelings, not to fix the issue.

Be an active listener, seeking the message being sent to you, instead of thinking of what you want to say next.  You can reflect to the speaker that you heard them by repeating back in your words what they said, asking for clarification, and even just saying things like, “wow, that sounds rough,” and “what a difficult day you had.”  Doing so illustrates that you represent a safe space where the speaker can open up, instead of a person who may be judging or not understanding them.  You can also ask open ended questions, such as, “what happened next?” and “how did that make you feel?”  These invite the speaker to fully express their feelings, and helps you truly hear them.

A discussion between you and the person you care for should occur to help you both articulate the ways that you like to give and receive support in your relationship, and to create space for you both to address issues together, instead of working against each other.  This is pertinent practice for you to advocate for yourself when someone is trying to support you, and for you to know how to best assist someone when called on to do so.

For additional information on supporting and not fixing, check out the following:

It’s Not About The Nail                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

Stop Trying to Fix Things, Just Listen! https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skills-healthy-relationships/201606/stop-trying-fix-things-just-listen

Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening https://www.growingself.com/stop-fixing/

How to show up for a friend without trying to fix their problems, according to a therapist                         https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/how-to-support-a-friend-without-fixing-problems/

Moving From Racism and Discrimination to Healing and Inclusion

If you have been paying attention to the news and social media outlets in the past week, you undoubtedly have seen events unfolding around policy brutality, racial injustice, and frustrations of many boiling over as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  One pressing issue on the minds of many is regarding privilege.

Privilege is unseen to those that have it, and we each have to be mindful not to diminish or dismiss experiences, hardships or traumas of others just because it is not our direct experience.  To do so is alienating, and furthers the divide between humans.  Seeking and succeeding in solidarity requires us to give focus to the traits and experiences that highlight commonalities among us instead of solely focusing on what makes us different, and treating those differences as negatives or deficiencies.  Appreciation of those differences will also serve to connect us, if we allow space to appreciate individual and cultural uniqueness.

As the days move forward, many difficult conversations will be had about privilege, community and law enforcement relations, and racial inequality.  You may experience uncertainty about what to do for yourself or others, engage in self-evaluation about personal and implicit biases, and feel diminished hope because the pain feels too great.  However, there are means to maintain hope and contribute to move our community forward.

Ways you can take care of yourself include taking a pause and logging off social media accounts, limiting your news intake, and avoiding comment sections if the content overwhelms you.  Take a moment to think before you type and respond, take deep breaths and disconnect if you need to, and allow yourself to revisit content at a later time. It is okay to ask others about their experiences to gain awareness of perspectives you may not be attuned to, and allow this to bolster your relationships and self-growth.

Ways you can support others include checking in with your family, friends and neighbors, encouraging them to engage in self-care, and linking them to resources if you suspect they are struggling with their mental health.  Hearing your loved ones out on their experiences and thoughts about race relations is a very validating and supportive way to be present for them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling at this time, you can text HOME to 741741 for confidential chat support from trained staff, or call 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7).

Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


Boundaries are absolutely vital for healthy relationships- most importantly, your relationship with yourself.  It is a way to maintain balance in your life by learning, acknowledging and holding others to your personal limits.  This supports positive self-image and healthy self-esteem.  For most of us, it is not a skill we were taught, rather, through experience and watching others, we determine what is- and is not- acceptable for each of us.  As this skill can be challenging to develop and maintain, below are some tips from Dr. Dana Gionta for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries (courtesy of Psych Central article, 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS):

  1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.  “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

  1. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

  1. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

  1. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls, Gionta said. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.

Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed? Consider “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to do about the situation? What do I have control over?”

  1. Consider your past and present.

How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically, Gionta said. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.

Also, think about the people you surround yourself with, she said. “Are the relationships reciprocal?” Is there a healthy give and take?

Beyond relationships, your environment might be unhealthy, too. For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, “there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond” at work, Gionta said. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries, she said. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.

  1. Make self-care a priority.

Gionta helps her clients make self-care a priority, which also involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, “our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger,” she said. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as “important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.”

Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” And “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.”

  1. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, “seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make “it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”

Consider seeking support through resources, too. Gionta likes the following books: The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time and Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).

  1. Be assertive.

Of course, we know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, Gionta said. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.

In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it, Gionta said.

  1. Start small.

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Gionta suggested starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”

“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support,” Gionta said. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

Source:  https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/

Tip of the Week: Red Flags within a Relationship

Do you know the expression “love is blinding”? This is a true statement. Even when your gut is telling you that something is wrong, you often ignore it. However, your gut is never wrong. Here are some red flags to look out for when in a relationship:
• Blames others for own faults
• Drug/ Alcohol use/abuse
• Explosive temper
• Extreme jealousy or insecurity
• Fascination with weapons
• Strong gender stereotypes
• Difficulty with authority
• Cannot express emotions verbally
• Treats partner like property/possession
• Isolates you from friends and family
• Blows up about little things
• Thinks it’s okay to resolve conflict with violence
• Checking emails, cellphones and social media without permission
• Constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones

If you or someone you know sees the warning signs in their relationship, then remember you are not alone and that you have the option to seek help. You can always reach out by contacting NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) directly at nova.sas@nvcc.edu or 703-338-0834.
https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/dating.html
If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us for our Red Flag Campaign on Monday, March 2nd from 11am to 2pm in the LC Café on the Loudoun Campus. Hope to see you there! https://www.facebook.com/events/166424331470492/

Tip of the Week: Prevention of Cyberstalking

Tip of the Week: Cyberstalking

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn: so much of our everyday life is viral! Checking and updating our accounts daily has become a normal routine, like brushing our teeth. However, we often forget the dangers that come with our social media followers. When hitting “post” we can forget the dangers of cyberstalking. Your stalker may be a stranger or someone who has an active role in your life. Along with electronic stalking and harassment, cyberstalking can also include identity theft, soliciting for sex, slander, or gathering your personal information to threaten, blackmail, or embarrass you. Cyberstalking is dangerous and can quickly escalate. Many of us have been affected or personally know someone who has. Check out the following tips to keeping yourself safe:

  1. Block any and all suspicious users
  2. Do not add or accept users that you do not know
  3. Do not respond to private messages to anyone you don’t know
  4. When posting, do not share specifics about your location.
  5. Do not share your last name, phone number, or email on online dating sites until you have met in person.

For additional resources visit:

Cyber stalking background with some smooth lines, 3D rendering, a red stop sign

https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html

 

Professional Sports Leagues Respond to Domestic Violence

October 2, 2015: Professional Sports Leagues Respond to Domestic Violence

DVAM:
Did You Know?
Did you know that each of the major professional sports leagues in our country have policies and services to respond to domestic violence, whether their players are victimized or perpetrate violence?
MLB (Major League Baseball): The most recent league to implement a policy, MLB’s is a comprehensive response that includes investigation and discipline for current offenses, treatment and intervention for both the victim and the offender, and regular prevention education.
NBA (National Basketball Association): Domestic violence convictions are handled under the league’s rules about “Unlawful Violence” – players are immediately suspended for a minimum of 10 games, must get a clinical evaluation and attend counseling sessions. Additionally, NBA union officials said players already receive [prevention] training at least one year before they join the basketball league.
NFL (National Football League): The NFL’s policy, announced in December 2014, includes developing critical response teams for each team as well as prevention education programming for youth in football programs.
NHL (National Hockey League): Officials said they meet with players annually to discuss conduct and conduct and determine responses to domestic violence on a case-by-case basis.
Sources: Click on the hyperlinks above for more information.

What can we do?

 Get Educated!
o Watch the NFL’s Call to Coaches video

o Read this research overview on engaging men and boys and this research on how to mobilize men and boys as allies

 Promote implementation of primary prevention programs such as:

o Coaching Boys into Men

o Teach Early

 Attend George Mason University’s Healthy Masculinity workshop on 10/28.

 Use social media to spread the word!
o DVAM: Did you know that all major professional sports leagues have policies in place to respond to #DomesticViolence? Let’s take their lead and promote prevention efforts, such as Teach Early, in youth sports leagues here in #FairfaxCounty. #DVAM2015 #LookAgain

o DYK we can help stop #domesticviolence through youth prevention efforts, such as #TeachEarly. #DVAM2015 #FairfaxCounty #LookAgain
[Go to: http://teachearly.org/, when you scroll down the page, social media links will pop up on the left.]

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! Each business day in October, we send out a “DVAM: Did You Know?” highlighting interesting research findings and statistics or best practices in preventing and responding to domestic violence. Please share with your friends, family members, community groups, and colleagues.

October 1, 2015: Look Again at Domestic Violence in Fairfax County

DVAM:
Did You Know?

Did you know that every day in Fairfax County we respond to two people who are at high risk for homicide or serious physical injury at the hands of the person they love?

The Fairfax County Police Department has teamed up with the Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Artemis House (Shelter House, Inc.), Bethany House of Northern Virginia, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Victim Services Section of the FCPD to better predict and, ultimately, prevent serious injury and homicide from happening.

On July 1, 2015, those agencies started the Lethality Assessment Program. In the first two months of the program, over half (54%) of all domestic violence cases screened by FCPD were high-danger.

Of those cases, victims reported serious lethality risks, such as:
1. 33% reported the presence of a firearm in the home (or easy access to one)
 The presence of a firearm makes it 5 times more like domestic violence will turn into murder.*

2. 55% reported stalking victimization (the offender following or spying on them or leaving threatening messages)
 Nationally, 76% of femicide victims were stalked prior to their murder.

3. 64% reported a history of strangulation (often referred to as ‘choking’)
 Strangulation is a serious crime that often leaves no visible injuries, even though it can create temporary or permanent brain damage in as little as 30 seconds.

 A victim of domestic violence with a history of strangulation has a 800% increased risk of homicide.

*J. C. Campbell, D; Webster, J; Koziol-McLain, C. R; et al. 2003. Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study. American Journal of Public Health. 93(7). Accessed from: http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/Guns.pdf
** Judith McFarlane et al., “Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide,” Homicide Studies 3, no. 4 (1999).] More at: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/stalking-fact-sheet_english.pdf
*** Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Daniel Webster, Jane Koziol-McLain, et al. “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study.” American Journal of Public Health, Volume 93, No. 7 (July 2003) 1089-1097. A study of 300 cases of strangulation survivors conducted by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office revealed that in 50% of the cases there were no visible markings to the neck and 35 % had only minor injuries (Strack, McClane & Hawley, 2001).
Info: http://www.janedoe.org/site/assets/docs/Learn_More/DV_Homicide/JDI_MediaGuide_Strangulation.pdf

What can we do?

 Let’s change those statistics! Educating ourselves and our community members is a good first start:

o Join us for a media event today at 1:30pm at the Historic Courthouse: https://fcpdnews.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/preventing-domestic-violence-homicide/!

o Use social media to spread the word! Post or tweet responsible media articles (like any on the LAP press release above) on the subject or simple facts about the issue. Find sample posts and tweets like these each day in the DVAM Did you Know? this month:

o DVAM: Did you know that #domesticviolence is a leading cause of homicide in Fairfax County? DV-related homicides are predictable and preventable. Please help spread the word that services and support are available. For help, call Fairfax County’s 24-hour Hotline: 703-360-7273.

o DYK #DomesticViolence is a leading cause of homicide in #FairfaxCounty? Help is available: 703-360-7273 (24 HR) #DVAM2015 #LookAgain http://bit.ly/ffxdv

o Start a conversation! Everyone can speak out against domestic violence. You may be the safest person for a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker to talk to. Check out these tips:
o What to say when you think someone is being abused
o What to say if you suspect someone is using abusive behavior

Sandy Bromley, JD
Fairfax County-Wide Domestic Violence Coordinator
Office: (703) 324-9494 Cell: (571) 215-2429
Community Events & Resources: www.fairfaxdvcommunity.org

Fairfax County Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC)
Web: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/domesticviolence/dvac/
Information & Intake Line: (703) 246-4573

Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services
Web: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ofw
24-hour Hotline: (703) 360-7273