Mental Health Awareness
May 1, 2018
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For those of us who work in human services, mental health has long been considered as critical to individual and collective success as physical health. We live in a world that challenges us everyday. We strive to overcome these challenges and thrive. However, our often-hostile environments create an abundance of toxic stress that must be actively combated to improve health and life outcomes.
The trauma experienced in our communities is profound on a historical level and remains palpable. Trauma and toxic stress produce negative mental and physical health outcomes, poor economic outcomes, and severely limit our educational achievement. The constant micro and macro aggressions faced by communities of color, women, LBGTQ, immigrant, and refugee communities inflict a heavy toll on our psyche and our bodies. Intersectionality and poverty compounds this impact exponentially.
Throughout history our communities have proven to be resilient, but we cannot ignore the need for accessible mental health services and nontraditional mental health approaches that build on the cultural assets embedded in our communities. Culturally effective mental health approaches should aim to strengthen our individual, family, and community resiliency to break the cycles of dependency and counter the oppressive historical narrative that negatively impacts our well-being.
Over the last two decades, Safe Passages has fought to increase the accessibility of mental health services and to innovate new culturally responsive approaches to improving mental health in the communities we serve. In addition to securing resources to strengthen the safety net for vulnerable children, youth, and families, we implement culturally responsive strategies in our Baby Learning Communities Collaborative Program, School Linked Services, and Law and Social Justice initiatives. Most recently, Safe Passages was selected by the California Public Health Department’s Office of Health Equity to participate in the California Reducing Disparities Project. The goal of the project is to address the toxic stress experienced by African American youth and improve their mental health outcomes.
As we continue our pursuit of social justice and actively work toward better outcomes for youth and families in our communities, let us maintain a steady focus on improving mental health practices and accessibility to effective mental health services.
Josefina Alvarado Mena, Esq.
On Thursday, November 16th, Ralph J. Bunche Academy hosted a “Bunche of Thanks” Event, in partnership with the campus Family Resource Center, proudly funded by Safe Passages. At the event, teachers got to nominate and present Appreciation Awards to their outstanding students. The awards included the “Most Cheerful Helper,” “A True Feminist,” “Most Improved,” “Exemplifies Curiosity,” and more!
Each student got a certificate from the school and a beautiful plant graciously donated by City Slicker Farms! Over 40 families also went home with bags of groceries for the holiday, made possible by our partners at the Alameda Community County Food Bank. Our friends Chef Cindy and Chef Dave from Unique Soul Catering , together with the Culinary Program at Bunche Academy, also cooked 50 delicious smoked turkeys for the students, staff, and their families!
More information available HERE.
On Friday, November 17th, Safe Passages was proud to partner with United for Success Academy (UFSA) to host a Thanksgiving Dinner and Grocery Giveaway event for the Fruitvale community. The dinner was made possible through the campus Family Resource Center — also proudly funded by Safe Passages — and Unique Soul Catering, who again generously donated 12 delicious smoked turkeys. The grocery giveaway was made possible by our friends at the Food Bank and Tzu Chi USA, who contributed 108 chickens and 100 bags of groceries to the food distribution, respectively.
Through our combined efforts, we were able to serve a special holiday dinner to over 200 members of the UFSA community and distribute 150 bags of food to all the families.
More information available HERE.
A huge thank you to all of our partners, friends, and members of the community who donated their services and time to make these joyful events possible for our students and families!
A huge thank you to our very own AmeriCorps VISTA member Jonathan Smith for lending his talent to create this video highlighting the wonderful work of Safe Passages’ AmeriCorps volunteers!
A huge thank you to our very own AmeriCorps VISTA member Jonathan Smith for lending his talent to create this video highlighting the wonderful work of the Get Active Urban Arts program!
Safe Passages’ After School Programs provide safe, fun and enriching programs. Programs include academic tutoring, enrichment services, sports programs and activities for students in grades K-12 throughout Alameda County.
- Our high quality after school programs serve an average of over 1,200 students every school day of the year.
- Over 250 AmeriCorps Members serve over 2,500 high-need students through intensive academic tutoring and mentoring in our after school programs.
- Our After School Programs partner with: Laurel Elementary School, Coliseum College Prep Academy, United for Success Academy, Community United Elementary School, and Piedmont Elementary School in Oakland Unified School District ; and Emanuele Elementary School, Searles Elementary School, and Cesar Chavez Middle School in New Haven Unified School District.