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Youth Mental Health Care: California’s Investments May Still Not Be Enough

In August, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2508, authored by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton). The new state law, Newsom’s office says, reimagines youth mental health services by strengthening care systems in schools and focusing on intervention and prevention instead of crisis care.

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In 2019, Black children in California were the most likely to experience serious emotional disturbances among children of all other racial groups at a rate of nearly 8%.
In 2019, Black children in California were the most likely to experience serious emotional disturbances among children of all other racial groups at a rate of nearly 8%.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

In August, The Children’s Partnership hosted a mental health panel centered around the voices of young girls and women of color. The session was organized as part of the organization’s Youth of Color initiative.

“I had never been surrounded by a group of people with the same experiences and the same struggles regarding mental health, regarding being a person of color,” said Samantha Giles.

Giles, a California teenager, is one of the Children’s Partnership’s youth panelists.

“I even got to go into a breakout room where we talked about how our parents don’t necessarily recognize our mental health struggles and I never really talked with someone else my age about my personal experience and their personal experience,” the teenager intimated.

Giles described the interactions she had with her peers as “eye opening.”

That same month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health,” an initiative that pumps $4.7 billion into the super-system providing mental health services to the state’s youth.

See the Video: California African American Teens Speak Out

Some advocates and public health officials say the governor’s announcement serves as an appropriate policy response to what experts are calling a mental health crisis in the state. They see it as a positive step the state is taking to address the under-treated and often overlooked challenges that youth like Giles are trying to overcome.

According to the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), one in 14 children have experienced a mental or emotional disturbance that disrupts their day-to-day life.

Of the California adolescents who experienced major depressive episodes, 63.6% did not receive treatment for those incidents.

Newsom touts California’s response to the national mental health crisis over that of other states.

“As other states take away resources to support kids’ mental health, California is doubling down with the most significant overhaul of our mental health system in state history,” Newsom said. “We’re investing billions of dollars to ensure every California child has better access to comprehensive mental health and substance use services.”

Some notable organizations have praised the state’s commitment to children’s and young adults’ mental health.

“The state has made some incredible and historic investments in children and youth mental health and well-being – both with the $4 billion Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative and with the $3 billion Community Schools Initiative,” said Angela M. Vázquez, policy director at the Children’s Partnership.

However, Vázquez raised concerns about many of these funds being one-time investments that might not fully address the needs of children of color.

Vázquez’s concerns, which mirror those of several mental health advocates in communities of color, extend to Newsom’s pledge to add 40,000 more mental health workers to California.

“Still, the reality is that the clinical workforce is and will likely remain for some time largely white and middle-class – not at all reflective of the diversity of our state’s children,” Vázquez stated.

The Children’s Partnership is currently working on a solution to the existing inequity that the organization says involves peer-to-peer interactions.

“Youth of color from The Children’s Partnership’s own youth policy council, the Hope, Healing, and Health Collective shared that greater investments in peer-to-peer programs would improve the opportunities for youth of color to connect and heal with members of their own communities and identities,” Vázquez stated. “Peer support is an essential evidence-based strategy for young people’s mental health that has the potential to build interest and foundational professional skills that lead to future opportunities for mental health career paths for more students of color.”

Contributing to the state’s youth mental health crisis are other factors like the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say.

According to research published by the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the state of mental health among Black people worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic with anxiety and depression being the main issues.

“These recent events have layered on additional psychological and emotional stress on children and youth of color, particularly Black youth,” Vázquez said. “In considering what serves young people well, it is imperative that we address the systemic barriers that have contributed to historic mental health disparities in youth, and develop innovative strategies, leaving space for healing outside of and in tandem with the traditional mental health system.”

The CHCF found that Black people had the hardest time among all other ethnic groups finding a doctor, especially a specialist.

In 2019, Black children in California were the most likely to experience serious emotional disturbances among children of all other racial groups at a rate of nearly 8%.

From 2017 to 2019, roughly 30% of Black 7th graders were projected to have experienced feelings of depression or depressive episodes.

These trends are not just documented among today’s Black children. African American adults are reported to have experienced more adverse childhood experiences that negatively impact their mental health more than any other ethnic group that self-reported, according to the CHCF.

In August, Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2508, authored by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton). The new state law, Newsom’s office says, reimagines youth mental health services by strengthening care systems in schools and focusing on intervention and prevention instead of crisis care.

The governor says the legislation will “better define the role of school counselors.”

But Vázquez has some reservations about that bill, too. She feels it does not fully address the mental health needs of all of the state’s children.

“One thing that AB 2508 does not address is the urgent need for greater investments in California’s youngest learners’ mental health – children ages 0-5,” Vázquez stated. “The state needs to invest significantly more resources in community-based infant and early childhood mental health services, such as early childhood mental health consultations – an evidence-based model that reduces the number of preschool suspensions and expulsions, an issue that has significant disproportionate impacts on young Black children.”

California Black Media’s coverage of Mental Health in California is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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Activism

Tiny Homes Offer Hope for Holidays and Beyond

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes. 

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As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.
As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

By Dr. Maritony A. Yamot and Rev. Ken Lackey

The holidays are the season when we stop and begin to think, “How can I give back this year and what are some different ways to help out?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help out during the holidays that don’t cost a thing. The Tiny Homes Project — with Rev. Ken Lackey of the Center for the Perfect Marriage Church at 6101 International Blvd. — needs to increase its capacity and we wanted to remind our community that everybody matters to God.

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

We want to launch an intensive month-long generosity campaign to help the increasing homeless issues in our neighborhoods by adding to the number of tiny homes that we have already built at various private locations in Oakland.

We invite you to join us as we partner with some of Oakland’s fabulous nonprofit organizations to meet critical needs in our communities.

Whether through donation or action, there are plenty of opportunities to give.

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes.

We are also looking for vehicle donations of trailers or any truck for hauling material and picking up volunteers and homeless people that are helping to build Tiny Homes. We build our homes with primarily donated and surplus materials, allowing us to cut costs and provide a pleasant home for under $40,000.

Each and every person who wants to help out and eradicate the homeless problem in the City of Oakland can donate funds for us to build a Tiny Home. If donors want to give money to the ministry, we will build a tiny home and name it after them. Know that your donations will be able to take a whole family off the street during this cold season.

In addition, we are open to getting a sponsor or sponsors for an entire Tiny Homes Community Park and we have a separate location that will be designated for homeless veterans, the elderly, single mothers or single fathers, and any individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, places not meant for habitation, or sleeping on our streets.

Please spread the word and contact us about any way you can help our Tiny Homes Community Project with Rev. Ken Lackey.

There are three ways to contact us

  1. By Phone/toll-free number: 1-833-233-8900 ext. 1
  2. By Email: TinyHomesC@gmail.com
  3. By Appointment/Donation Drop off location at the All About Grits Restaurant at 6101 International Blvd., Oakland, CA

Or you can attend our next two major events:

  1. Tiny Homes Fundraising Event on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Place to be announced.
  2. Tiny Homes Community Building Workshop with the help of our community and local partners in the Bay Area. Date and place to be announced.

Contact us for more details of these two events or any ways you can help in this season.

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Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

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As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

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Activism

March Against Fear: When ‘Black Power’ Became Mainstream

What began as a solitary peaceful protest for voter registration became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmichael formed unlikely alliances that resulted in the Black Power movement. This ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

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James Meredith walking on the campus of the University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko, the United States Library of Congress.)
James Meredith walking on the campus of the University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko, the United States Library of Congress.)

By Tamara Shiloh

It was June 5, 1966.

James Howard Meredith (born 1933), on a mission to encourage Black voter registration and defy entrenched racism in the South, set out on a solitary walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.

On the second day of his journey, Aubrey Norvell, a white gunman, waited on a roadside a few miles south of Hernando, Mississippi. He ambushed Meredith, shooting him in the neck, head, and back.

Within 24 hours, the nation’s three principal civil rights organizations vowed to continue the march: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Success of the event could not be predicted. Leaders were aware that last-minute planning of a march could be dangerous, and the route chosen was not without uncertainty. The three-week march led to death threats, arrests, and the use of tear gas. Internal tensions surrounding leadership swelled and use of the slogan “Black Power” became a revolutionary phrase urging self-determination and Black pride.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice, a group of Black veterans from World War II who believed in armed self-defense, provided protection for participants. Founded in Jonesboro, La., in 1964, The Deacons for Defense had already protected civil rights activists from the Ku Klux Klan. About 20 chapters were created throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The march ended on June 22, 1966. Meredith, sufficiently recovered, had been able to rejoin the event. Participants supporting Meredith along the way joined in, making the total number of marchers arriving in Jackson about 15,000. The March Against Fear was one of the largest marches in history for that geographical area. It was during the post-march rally that Stokely Carmichael first used the phrase “we want Black Power” during a public speech.

Carmichael sought to define the quest for Black Power in constructive terms, explaining to supporters in Detroit that “Black votes created Black Power…That doesn’t mean that we are anti-white. We are just developing Black pride.”

Meredith had become well known when he successfully challenged the Kennedy administration to protect his civil rights. His application for admission to the University of Mississippi, dubbed Ole Miss, had been twice denied. With backing from the NAACP, he filed suit for racial discrimination.

After heavy negotiations with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Meredith was permitted to enroll at Ole Miss but only under escort of federal troops. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

What began as a solitary peaceful protest for voter registration became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmichael formed unlikely alliances that resulted in the Black Power movement. This ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

Understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change in Anne Bausum’s “The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power.”

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