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Closing the treatment gap: Time to address inequality within mental health

By Sosunmolu Shoyinka, MD DBHIDS Chief Medical Officer Two months ago, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the City of Philadelphia took the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Month to remind residents -- especially during this difficult and unprecedented time of COVID-19: “You’re not alone. Help is out there.” Much has changed in the national dialogue since early May. And now Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, recognized in July of each year, gives us the opportunity to look more closely at overall mental health awareness -- and focus on the shortcomings of mental health treatment among minority groups. Mental health issues are not limited by race, gender, sexual identity, or anything else. Sadly, data suggest that access to mental health care does have limitations. This is particularly the case for minority populations. Across the United States, minority groups are less likely to have access to mental…

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Ready to Help: Message from DBHIDS Commissioner David T. Jones

Philadelphians are impacted to the core of our being, like the rest of the world, by the compilation of traumatic events experienced over the past several months. From the ongoing uncertainty and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic to the justified anger over the murders of George Floyd and many others that has gripped the nation to the violent upheaval and feelings of helplessness that have overtaken many at this time. We all are experiencing some degree of trauma. Moreover, not knowing when we may become overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress that these overlapping circumstances have created—when will it end? But the City of Philadelphia stands ready to help those seeking support at this time. We at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) understand people who experience traumatic events have an increased risk of developing a range of behavioral health challenges. DBHIDS takes an approach to…

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Finding Peace in the Pandemic

by Laura Vega, DSW, LCSW In these times of intense stress, it is most difficult to find our peace and balance. We are experiencing unprecedented times with daily increases in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and the number of deaths. Color-coded tracking maps magnify the power of the virus’ transmission across our counties, states, and countries. In real time, we receive tweets and notifications of “hot zones” and alerts about increasing rates of transmission. In addition to the threats to our own health and the healthcare system, we are experiencing real economic loss and a hostile political climate. In these times of intense stress, it is most difficult to find our peace and balance. We all struggle with our need for control and predictability in times when the rules are changing daily. We must find our own personal balance of how much news we need to stay informed without…

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Collaboration Can Lead to Change

What’s happening along Gurney Street is something to be celebrated. In just over two weeks since the clean-up project began along a stretch of land owned by Conrail in the Kensington-Fairhill community, more than 250 tons of waste and debris have been removed and fencing is going up to prevent people from becoming injured on or near the railroad tracks.  In addition, the fencing serves as a barrier to prevent gathering in the area where folks had engaged in dangerous and unhealthy behavior.  In this instance the “C “word, collaboration between City agencies and private partners, has made the difference — the once blighted landscape is no more.

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