University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

H.O.P.E: National Mental Wellness Tour and Black House Rock Toolkits

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Four hundred years of racial injustice underlie social determinants of health embedded where Blacks live, learn, work, play, and worship. Racial injustice has caused cultural trauma that continues to affect Black mental wellness across the life course. Also, Black people with mental health issues are commonly “undiagnosed, underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed in part because of a combination of various, cultural, linguistic, sociopolitical, environmental, economic, or historical reasons.” Disseminating culturally-engaging, evidence-based mental wellness toolkits dramatically expands the mental health ecosystem by conducting community mapping, screenings, and harnessing the collective power of 100 national organizations in the village. The national tours of 16 cities will include conferences, trainings, and community engagement that spans the life course and disability status. We will raise awareness, decrease stigma and increase help seeking behaviors. Black individuals will have unprecedented access to local resources, proper diagnoses and interventions such as mindfulness and support groups.

Problem Statement

For four centuries, Black people in America have experienced racial injustice. This racial injustice has resulted in traumatic devaluing of Black lives and the underdevelopment of Black communities in the United States and around the world [2]. Furthermore, Black people with mental health needs are less likely than their white counterparts to receive mental health services due to a combination of factors including but not limited to socioeconomic status, cultural differences, bias and historical experiences. Men, women, and youth in the Black community across the life span who have experienced trauma, racial injustice, and other forms of marginalization. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015 African Americans were 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than white Americans, and African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as white Americans. Despite these statistics, African Americans are less likely to receive mental health care. With an increase in traumatic events (e.g., mass shootings, police killings, and racial targeting), raising awareness about mental health and providing resources is timely and essential. Improving the mental health infrastructure in the Black communities involves creating local hubs that link to the national tours and toolkits to increase local and national capacity to serve the Black communities’ mental health needs. Using cultural influencers can amplify the importance of attending to one’s mental health. Also, rooting messages in the rhythm and cultural wealth of communities is also important.

Solution Overview

Our H.O.P.E. cultural and educational solution will create a culture around destigmatizing mental health conditions and create a culture in which seeking mental health services is seen as a positive way to care for yourself and loved ones. Involving Black celebrities who are willing to discuss their lived experiences with mental health conditions can help to spark conversations across many groups. For example, Charlemagne tha God, radio personality from the Breakfast Club who discusses having depression and anxiety, reaches younger people and adults who all listen to his radio show. In addition, he often goes against cultural norms that prevent men from discussing depression and anxiety and depression. We will establish metrics to evaluate self and community empowerment. We will recognize progress when we have least 75 national Black organizations and their local chapters committed to H.O.P.E. During the first year of the tours, will expect to have a total of 4,000 individuals participate across the four cities. The 4,000 individuals will be diverse and include men, women, non-binary gender, young people, seniors, and those with disabilities. During the first year of the tours, will train 2,000 citizen scientists in person and online. We will disseminate 250 toolkits to participants in each of the four cities. We plan to screen 250 individuals and refer a 100% of individuals who score above the threshold to local mental health services. For increase in mental health awareness based on pre- and post-surveys; social media data (followers on social media pages, number of shares

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