There are populations in Buffalo who don't always know who to turn to for help with mental health. That is why the Near East and West Side Task Force and Community Health Center of Buffalo will be hosting a series of mental wellbeing forums. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says they are called "Color Me Healthy".
"We look to try to educate folks who might be not informed about mental health in a way that is more targeted toward the people we serve in the community,” said Karl Shallowhorn, education program coordinator, Community Health Center.
The series for mental wellness begins January 16th.
“We’ll be having Dr. Erin Moss, who is a local, clinical psychologist, also Ricardo Herrera, executive director of Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers and Tia Lewis, a local peer specialist who works for the UB MD HOPE Program,” Shallowhorn explained.
The mental health wellness series is an effort to "tackle topics" effecting communities of color. On February 20th the topic will be Homicide & Grief. Shallowhorn said there is a lot of unresolved grief and trauma in the community.
“How do you support that?” asked Buckley. “Big part of it has to do with just letting people know what the resources are and also how to understand and how to process that grief and to know that it’s okay to seek help. You know one of the things we know is that when it comes to any type of mental health issue – the earlier the intervention the better and even with trauma – we know that trauma is a very sensitive topic, so we have to have, obviously, trained personnel to work with this kind of thing,” replied Shallowhorn.
In March there will be a Youth Mental Health session. Shallowhorn points out 50-percent of mental illness and substance abuse occurs by age of 14.
The Color Me Health series will extend into April and May with Family and Caregivers and First Responders.
Shallowhorn said stigma around mental illness is still a problem in the African American and Hispanic communities and they want to make sure the disparities are addressed to help citizens.
“And that’s for a lot of reasons – when you think about mental health care for folks in the community a lot of times there might be issues around access to care, there could be a lack of insurance, there could be – if anything stigma – stigma is a big issue for people, especially in the African American and Latino community. It’s seen often times as being more of a weakness,” responded Shallowhorn.