Deconstructing stereotypes around homelessness lies at the core of Dr. Igda Martinez’s work at the Floating Hospital. For 150 years, the New York hospital has made psychiatric care available to unhoused populations who are among society’s most neglected. Shannette Champman, a mother of two, shares her experience of seeking care when she was in need of accessible mental health care.
Muslims don’t often seek mental healthcare because of the dearth of services that integrate faith-based concepts into treatment practices. Instead, they seek help from family members, clergymen - people who don’t have the formal training to provide them with adequate care. Dr Hooman Keshavarzi’s Khalil Center provides that much-needed oasis that is a confluence of psychiatry and the Islamic faith.
When a mental healthcare facility failed to approach Alan’s bipolar disorder within the context of his cerebral palsy, his mother Rosalba knew the lack lay in the under-resourced, ill-informed discriminatory system. Her resolve to find resources to treat Alan rightly, patiently, and creatively, is an example of hope for other families like theirs. But it requires tenacious and persistent advocacy.
“We fix problems inside the family” is what Adriana Alejandre grew up hearing. Determined to change the way the Latinx community approached mental healthcare, she started her practice as a bilingual therapist in LA. Overwhelmed by the number of patients she had to turn down, Alejandre started the Latinx Therapy podcast, which has become an important mental healthcare resource for the community.
Shelby Rowe was five when her grandmother asked her to hide her Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood. Like her, many Native youth grow up trying to pass as white which, as Rowe knows as a suicide prevention advocate, has adverse effects on their mental health. For trauma-informed mental healthcare to be effective, there has to be justice - something Native Americans have been denied systemically.
Drs. Dan and Rebecca Crawford Foster’s psychology practice doesn’t revolve around an individualistic idea of human beings. They believe that no identity of self can exist without a social context. Discarding the Western psychology, they embrace Native belief in the relational circle to help people heal so they can continue to be part of a joyful community bond that transcends generations.
Dr. Rebecca Crawford Foster was concerned about what she would lose if she left her reservation to pursue higher education. In fact, her elders encouraged her to go and seek that different wisdom, and bring it back to the reservation. She now stands in both worlds and is a bridge for healing. She and Dr. Dan Foster are modern warriors equipped with tools to protect their community.
Why does a medical emergency allow family members to enter the ER while a mental health emergency singles out the patient? In Asian communities, where the family is the core of all societal relations, a completely avoidable stigma pits the family against the healthcare system. A collective mental health pandemic can only be addressed through solutions that are social and familial.
The language of the American mental healthcare system is English and jargon-heavy, which automatically casts away people who don’t speak the language. This is a violent act of racism which denies immigrant communities the healthcare they deserve. When examining its inherent racism, a culturally competent health care system needs to grow beyond the binaries of Black and white, and serve everyone.
When Kelvin Nguyen was dealing with a mental health crisis, his family called the police for help. Mental health isn’t a crime and he wasn’t a criminal. Today, through VietCare, Nguyen educates and counsels others like him to overcome social taboos, discard shame, and seek mental healthcare. With the help of therapy, he is happy to be on this journey of self-realization while helping others.
Paul Hoang runs Moving Forward Psychological Institute and is a clinical social worker. A survivor of PTSD and depression, he was the only Vietnamese speaking clinician in Illinois. Now in California, he creates public TV programming around mental health in Vietnamese. Within a culture that has very little empathy for mental health survivors, Hoang is building a vocabulary of care and empathy.
For Natasha Stovall, whiteness is the real elephant in the room. Through her practice, she intends to address the colorblindness and race-agnostic nature of therapy, especially when it comes to white clients. She makes race the touchstone for effective and just therapy which consequently deconstructs the whiteness=greatness fallacy in white psyches.
Having diverse practitioners is an advantage but Dr. Vivian Jackson believes that it doesn't solve the various levels of disparity within mental healthcare. She believes, for services to work, they have to be placed in spaces where they’re received well. Her formulation of 6 As asks questions that provide a holistic approach to tackling the multi-pronged inequity of mental health services.
Lloyd Hale was 13 when his first symptoms of schizophrenia appeared. He was smoking too much weed, he was told. Growing up in the projects, the intersecting matrices of race, poverty and incarceration prevented appropriate treatment while the larger society willfully ignored his welfare. Here’s his story of recovery, resilience and refusal to “sleep it off.”
Idris Mitchell did everything there was to do on the Yale campus, until a diagnosis of bipolar disorder made him miss his finals, lose the perfect 4.0 and feel invisible. What does success mean to a Black queer man who had to be kept away from his pens? How does he turn around and adapt to a constant process of grieving for his previous self, while always being in pursuit of beauty and joy?
Lloyd Hale was 16 when undiagnosed schizophrenia led him to commit a crime that put him in prison. This is where he heard an overworked correction officer say the words that changed his life: “You don’t have to do this alone.” Now, a peer support specialist living in recovery, Lloyd spends his time making sure no one around him feels alone in their struggle against the voices in their heads.
Before Shawna Murray-Browne’s brother was murdered, she dreamt about it. It was a residue from the trauma of seeing so many Black men being killed around her. This turning point in her career as an integrated psychotherapist made her focus on empowering communities of color to access ways of nurture, care, and healing, that the racist-capitalist society keeps away from them.