Inland Empire Mental Health Resources
By Dianne Anderson
Add scorching heat of the past week to the COVID crisis fatigue, and bills piling up from recent job losses and potential massive evictions on the near horizon.
It’s all keeping community mental health professionals bombarded lately with calls for help.
Local advocate Linda Hart said a lot of the problem is that people don’t know where to turn in these mind-boggling times, but she is also concerned about another unhealthy family dynamic.
Since the quarantine began, close and distant relatives are packed into small available spaces, forcing some hard conversations to the surface.
That may, or may not be, emotionally productive.
“You didn’t hang around the family that much before. Now people are co-mingled and you’re with the family more often. Secrets in the closet are coming out,” said Hart with Riverside University Health Systems.
For the first time in a long time, relatives are in the same room with the proverbial elephant. Talking it out could help, but in some cases without professional mental health guidance, things can get ugly.
“You have physical fistfights. If there’s no one there trained to help, you’re going to go to your more primitive ways of dealing with issues,” said Hart, founder and president of the African American Health Coalition.
Hart, who works with RUHS behavioral health prevention and early intervention during COVID-19, is noticing people reaching out mostly around anxiety and stress. Tensions are high.
It’s also not unusual for some new additions to the family to have mental health issues or addictions.
“People get put out so the family takes in family,” she said. “I think we’re going to see a rise in that [situation] the more that people get evicted and move in with family members.”
Her nonprofit also works on suicide prevention outreach. Currently, she is going through training to help her community outreach workers spot the early signs of emotional distress.
She feels it’s equally important that providers keep emotionally balanced. Hart regularly attends self-care workshops, including a pre-pandemic six-week course on how to breathe and relax offered through S.B. City Schools and the African American Parent Advisory Committee.
She still deploys the techniques she learned. She has her outreach workers also make a point to check in with their attitude before they set out to help others.
“I do a lot of self-care things so I can be in the best place,” she said. “I teach my outreach workers that hurt people cannot help hurt people.”
Dr. April Clay, CEO of Clay Counseling Solutions, expects tremendous challenges ahead, but there is hope for those who connect around mental health, talk with loved ones, and if needed, go for counseling.
Between COVID-19 and the lack of financial and health resources, she said the community is juggling more than one pandemic at this time. A lot of people are coping with mental health issues and stressors, including overt racism, although historic, is now at a relatively high peak.
“For Black people, there are things we already do, connection to spirituality, whether getting on digital platform or meditation and prayer, all of that helps. It’s an aspect of what we’ve done over the decades and centuries in this country to survive,” said Clay.
Maneuvering around racism in society and unequal access to the medical industry as COVID hits Blacks harder than other groups also means that providers are needed to step up to another level to connect with the public.
“Folks like myself, community providers, it’s about coming to the table to say here are some practical tips you to use to begin to heal post-George Floyd watching that 8 min and 46 seconds of trauma,” she said. “Watching this man lose his life, what does that do inside you?
She has been participating in several online community forums and town halls, including a recent event with the Black Nurses Association. She also joined a panel with the City of Hope, and a Cal State San Bernardino Women’s Forum.
Depending on the level of need, her nonprofit arm offers low cost and no-cost services, as well as a sliding scale. She also is experiencing an uptick in requests for help.
“People dealing with domestic issues, that’s on the rise. My isolated folks, people already suffering from depression and suicide ideation are coming in at higher numbers, and I’m getting a lot of sign-ups for parenting classes and anger management,” she said.
For mental health help and 24/7 resources:
To chat about your problems, contact: HELPLine – 24 Hour Crisis/Suicide Intervention. Operated by highly trained volunteers, the line is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Call (951) 686-HELP (4357)
For 24/7 Walk-in Help for Crisis go to the Windsor Center, 1481 North Windsor Dr., San Bernardino or call 909-361-6470
For financial resources, see https://covid19.ca.gov/get-financial-help
To connect with Dr. Clay, see https://www.claycounselingsolutions.com/or call 909-804-8877
To connect with Linda Hart, see http://theaamhc.org or call 909-880-1343