After a highly publicized three-week trial, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
While the verdict has brought a sense of relief to some, mental health professionals say it’s still a difficult moment that brings up years of racial trauma and police brutality.
Last May, thousands took to the streets of Sacramento to decry Floyd’s death. In the aftermath of the 2018 police killing of South Sacramento resident Stephon Clark, people demonstrated for weeks in front of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
During both periods, there was a call for affordable, accessible mental health resources in Sacramento’s Black neighborhoods. Demonstrators called out the ways that ongoing fear, rage and grief take a toll on mental and physical well-being. They asked the city for additional funding to help them heal.
Since then, Black mental health leaders have used funding from Sacramento County to create virtual events where people can discuss racial violence. The city has funded youth pop-ups and “safe zones” where young people can talk to mentors about how they’re feeling. Faith leaders established a campaign to prevent African American suicide.
Yolanda Stevenson of the Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center, a family services nonprofit in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood, says the network of Black mental health professionals has gotten much better since then, but it’s still not where it needs to be.
“There’s still a gap,” she said. “When the people start saying ‘this is what I need’, we want to also make sure that we’ve got the capacity to serve them in the way, with the dignity, that they deserve to be served. So those are some of the things we’re still collectively working on building and expanding.”
Following the trial verdict, professors, mental health practitioners and others brought attention to Black mental health on social media:
Consider the physiological responses Black people around the country are having right now at this moment. Now consider how many everyday experiences we have that bring abt these same physiological responses. The physical and mental health consequences of all of this are real.— Hakeem Jefferson (@hakeemjefferson) April 20, 2021
Whew Black folks! Please take this opportunity to stop scrolling, breathe, and know that your mental health and self care should always be a top priority. If it's too much, go ahead and log off. The news will still be here tomorrow.— Black Girl Hockey Club (@BlackGirlHockey) April 20, 2021
News of the Derek Chauvin verdict in the death of George Floyd has students and staff feeling distracted, worried, scared, and anxious. Anti-Black racism and oppression affect our mental health in a myriad of ways. Please be kind at this time. pic.twitter.com/ol2D54jFWA— School Mental Health Ontario (@SMHO_SMSO) April 20, 2021
Here are some organizations that specialize in healing from racial trauma and provide culturally tailored mental health services for the Black community:
- Safe Black Spaces is a Sacramento organization promoting healing in Black communities, established in the wake of the 2018 police killing of Stephon Clark. The group holds monthly healing circles led by trained facilitators with expertise in Black historical trauma. You can find a list of their upcoming events, including a May 8 meeting, here. The group also offers a directory of wellness-oriented Black-owned businesses in Sacramento.
- African American Mental Health Providers offers a directory of culturally competent psychologists, therapists and social workers in the Sacramento area.
- Earth Mama Healing Network is a South Sacramento nonprofit focused on Black youth empowerment and leadership opportunities. Learn how to access their programs here.
- The Ripple Effect is a crisis counseling program of A Church For All in Sacramento. Call 916-891-0211 to make an appointment
- The Sierra Health Foundation offers a trauma-informed wellness program for the African American community in Sacramento County, with a special focus on youth up to age 25. Find more information here.
- Black Emotional and Mental Health has online resources, including virtual interactive workshops, to help break down barriers to care in the African American community.
- The Village Advocates is a Sacramento nonprofit offering healing spaces for youth, parents and families.
- The Association of Black Psychologists offers a tool kit for healing in the face of trauma.
- Black Mental Health Matters provides a robust resource list of organizations and hotlines that focus on healing and racial justice
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the speaker from the Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center. It is Yolanda Stevenson.
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