The Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health works year-round to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma.
For Black History Month, there is an extra effort to reach members of Black communities, where mental health wellness is often overlooked.
Dennis Horn, the diversity services coordinator, said this was due to “systemic barriers, access issues and different stereotypes about who might be living with a mental illness or a mental health condition”.
Division manager Ahmad Bahrami echoed Horn’s statement, adding: “Mental health is not something you have to do because you have done something, but rather it is a way that can help you achieve a healthier and better quality of life.”
The department is working with black community leaders in the county and releasing a series of videos called “Revealing.”
“Erasing the shame, despair and fear around seeking mental health care, and really highlighting areas of hope, ways to improve the overall well-being of the black community,” Horn said. .
There will also be virtual conversations and panel discussions on the department’s Facebook page every Friday this month.
Topics include normalizing and prioritizing conversations around mental wellness, the black church and its role in the mental wellness of the black community, and pathways to pursuing a career in mental health.
Behavioral health officials recognize that more resources need to be available for Black communities. Current priorities include building a workforce with more black practitioners and community-focused programs.
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