Community Responsive Wellness Program for the Black Communities of Sacramento
Community Responsive Wellness Program Background
Since January 2021, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services has partnered with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation to support the development of the Community Responsive Wellness Program’s outreach, engagement and prevention services for Black communities of Sacramento. This program previously was called the Trauma-Informed Wellness Program.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and deepened the complex array of challenges confronting Black families and youth in Sacramento. In too many cases, they have been left to process grief, racism, economic insecurity, educational challenges and isolation on their own and without adequate support.
Although Black, and in many cases Latinx, children experience disproportionate rates of depression and anxiety, they are 14 percent less likely than white youth to receive treatment for these conditions. (RTOR.org) Our program addresses this need by connecting youth, families and communities with the care and resources they need to cope and thrive.
The Trauma-Informed Wellness Program launched on Feb. 26, 2021. Graphic illustrations from the launch are below.
More About the Program’s Background
Issues related to poverty, violence, and housing and food insecurity have complicated the mental health challenges that Sacramento’s Black communities face. Since 1992, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized the importance of addressing violence as a public health issue. (CDC.gov) The Community Responsive Wellness Program provides support to individuals who need mental health support and might otherwise be victims or perpetrators of violence. Individuals experiencing mental health issues frequently have negative, and even deadly, encounters with law enforcement. The collective community grief and anger following the murder of Stephon Clark by local police is a devastating reminder that a community-based, trauma-informed approach is needed to ensure the safety and well-being of Black people in Sacramento.
In October 2018, the Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services and local stakeholders formed the Cultural Competence Committee Ad Hoc Workgroup. This workgroup was charged with designing community listening sessions so that Black individuals would have an opportunity to reflect on how trauma and mental illness have impacted the community.
The community developed a recommendation for a prevention and early intervention program to address the mental health and wellness needs of the Black community. They also called for programs to be inclusive of Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community members, who have typically experienced and been exposed to disproportionate rates of trauma and violence.
The Community Responsive Wellness Program resulted from this recommendation, focusing on people of all ages and genders, with special consideration for children and youth ages 0 to 25 who have experienced or been exposed to trauma. Partner programs incorporate an understanding of Black cultural heritage, including norms and traditions, the broad and multifaceted definition of family, and the ways in which trauma and adverse childhood experiences influence the development of young people.
The Center at Sierra Health Foundation manages the program, which is funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services through the voter-approved Proposition 63, Mental Health Services Act.