Racism is a direct and constant threat to the mental health of millions living in this country. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance views the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as one in a long line of tragic events that call on us to find common ground.
We cannot turn away from the fact that people of color, particularly African Americans, continue to live in fear of violence at the hands of the police. The mental health effects of constantly looking over one’s shoulder, concerned that you may be judged and suspected without cause, are profound.
This fear is part of a much broader reality that places all people of color at disproportionate risk for depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and more. As an organization concerned with the mental health of all Americans, we cannot and will not ignore this reality.
We view the public outrage we are seeing nationwide in light of the psychological burden that racism represents. We applaud peaceful protests that will move us toward understanding, compassion, and justice while exposing the mental health effects that racism creates.
It is all too easy to blame one individual, one group, or one event for what is happening right now. Instead, DBSA is focused on decisive actions that will advance the long-term mental health of all citizens:
We call on police departments across the nation to make urgent changes in policies, training, and accountability to prevent acts of injustice and brutality against any individual.
We call for cultural changes within police departments that make it safe and acceptable for officers to obtain the mental health care they themselves need.
We call on Congress to fund the full $38.5 billion needed to provide our citizens with the community-based mental health care required in this time of unprecedented stress.
We also ask Congress to provide direct federal funding for the expansion of virtual, peer-led support groups. There must be no obstacles for people who reach out to give and receive support.
DBSA encourages all individuals facing extreme sadness, anger, anxiety, and loneliness to find the resources they need. Visit DBSAlliance.org to access online peer support groups, podcasts, and other direct resources that can be of immediate help to you and your family.
Sincerely, Michael Pollock, CEO
DBSA is celebrating 35 years of hope, help, education, and support for people living with mood disorders.