Each year, during the month of May, a national movement to raise awareness about mental health takes place. Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to shed light on the reality that each year millions of Americans are living with a mental illness (*NAMI). We use the month of May to fight the stigma that is placed on mental health, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support individuals living with mental illnesses and their families. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is “Together for Mental Health”.
Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) is the area’s leading expert and resource in advancing behavioral health and wellness. BHSB helps guide innovative approaches to prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery for those who are dealing with mental health and substance use disorders to help build healthier individuals, stronger families and safer communities.** HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM) and BHSB have a longstanding partnership working closely to address the behavioral health needs of Baltimore City residents. Most recently, nine HCAM members across different departments had the opportunity to join SELF group sessions guided and led by BHSB. Most of our team members who participated in these group sessions work in HCAM’s Complex Care & Social Needs department, more specifically with individuals who need assistance with behavioral health and social need challenges.
SELF (Safety, Emotions, Loss, Future) by Dr. Sandy Bloom and Joseph Foderaro was developed, in part, to address chronically stressed organizations, systems, and trauma impacted staff and clients. The concept of parallel process means that organizations, staff and clients can mirror the stressors born out of trauma and adversity in such a manner that no one is immune from their influence. BHSB worked with one of the authors of the original SELF curriculum and adapted the curriculum to fit the needs of Baltimore communities and organizations using a non-clinical and culturally humility framework, shares Patricia Cobb-Richardson, MA, Director Community Resilience at BHSB. Patricia, and Terri Alexander, BHSB Community Resilience Coordinator, co-lead SELF group sessions that a few HCAM staff members were a part of, places an emphasis on the healing-centered conversations led by the participating team. She also shared that the psychoeducational framework is designed to raise self-awareness within context and provide tools for self-care. SELF is an approach that is well received as culturally adaptive, approachable, and accommodating for healing-centered conversations within a collective organizational setting.
HCAM’s Director of Training, Equity, and Inclusion, Joshua Morris, participated in the SELF group training over the past few weeks. Joshua shared the following: “Learning the concepts and practices of SELF has given me and others in the pilot training group an enhanced understanding and awareness of resilience in the face of trauma. HCAM looks forward to working with the BHSB team to offer opportunities for staff to develop tools that will support their self-care journey and a renewed confidence to shape their future.”
HCAM’s collaboration with BHSB’s SELF curriculum will further our staff members’ capacity to better serve the Maryland community. Our staff members work with vulnerable populations that have oftentimes been exposed to trauma and adverse events. By understanding the importance of trauma informed care, we know that our staff members are prepared to work with individuals in any capacity or setting.
To learn more about the SELF curriculum and its benefits, contact Patricia Cobb-Richardson.
If you or anyone you know needs to be connected to crisis services or treatment referral services, call HCAM’s Here2Help Hotline at 410-433-5175.
*Mental Health Month | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
**Behavioral Health System Baltimore – Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) (bhsbaltimore.org)