New Partnership Leads Black Health Outreach
By Dianne Anderson
The Black community had been stuck in crisis mode for a long time, and then the pandemic hit.
Since Coronavirus, the rise in mental health issues are consistent with increased unemployment, loss of healthcare, surging death rate twice that of whites, and back-to-back victimization of Blacks by police abusers.
It’s keeping healthcare workers and faith-based organizations extremely busy.
“We as a people have always been in crisis mode since slavery,” said Rev. Larry Ginn, founder/CEO ACI, Alpha Covenant Inc. in Long Beach. “If our mindset is not able to handle the side effects of the pandemic, not just the physical but the emotional and relationship part, we’re going to be in real bad shape.”
Rev. Ginn said that 2020 has thrown the Black community, and the world, into a tailspin. What’s worse is that the community has historically turned off to the idea of getting mental health therapy.
“Now, many people are depressed. It doesn’t mean they have a disorder, it means they’re in crisis mode. If they don’t get help, it can turn into some kind of disorder,” he said.
Supported by the city’s Black Health Equity funding, Ginn is working in partnership with the GREEN Foundation to provide outreach services to the community. He also hopes to reach the many under the radar, including the party and gang culture.
No matter the social or economic background, he said the faith-based community has a big role to play in getting available health and mental health services to harder to reach groups.
He said clinicians also can widen the net by tweaking their approach, trying to reach today’s youth generation at whatever stage of development.
This generation is determined, not backing down, not taking no for an answer, but he said they still need help and direction.
“What is the best way to communicate with them to give them the benefit of what we have, the wisdom we have [to move forward] along with their energy?” said Ginn, who is also part of the Long Beach Ministers Alliance.
The other issue is that not everyone may be eager to get the vaccine, but he is eager to get information out, including the story of Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Corbett, the Black scientist who led the development team for the Moderna vaccine.
“Her story, the tests and trials that she’s done should be made available to our community and the world. At the end of the day, we’re in a crisis situation. The bottom line is we need to boost our immune system,” said Ginn, a former case manager at the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.
Last year intensified so many social and health issues, resulting in more mental health needs. Ginn wants to provide more outreach focused on grief and trauma, crisis counseling, and provide a better understanding of the benefit of accessing mental health and health support. His approach combines both biblical and clinical therapies.
“ If we’re not equipped and prepared on how to deal with this, then we’ll fall prey like everyone else, to self medicate,” Rev. Ginn said.
Outreach is funded by the Black Health Equity Fund, and in partnership with the GREEN Foundation.
Mental health issues are also closely linked to the financial crisis.
According to the California Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, poverty-related to COVID-19 has hit the Black community with a vengeance. Their study shows that compared to 12% of white renters, 36% of Blacks and 29% of Latinos are behind on their rent. Compared to 8% whites, 19% Blacks and 21% Latinos did not have enough food to last seven days.
Ernesta Wright, founder and CEO of the GREEN Foundation, said she is excited to have Rev. Ginn as one of her partners in providing ways to point the Long Beach community toward resources.
She said that the partnership also offers an ability to reach existing ministries, and serve more in the community, she added.
“We targeted individuals that were able to plug in right away,” she said. “Each church has agreed to help push out information on a weekly basis of where resources are the vaccines are, we are going to navigate the organizing,” she said.
As a longstanding nonprofit, the GREEN Foundation has focused on health and cancer prevention services in the African American community for 21 years in the Tri-County area.
Locally, Wright will offer peer navigation and community guidance to access financial support services, such as help with utilities and rent.
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to be more hands-on, to say here’s all the food banks, this is what you need to stay up with resources, and get the latest information,” she said.
To get the message out, she is also training interns, who will work on social media, some are trained health advocates. Others are going to be health influencers on social media, texting and creating interacting directly with the community.
“It’s to help get the message out about COVID-19, vaccinations, education and advocacy and where your local services are,” she said. “It is confusing around the country and around the world, Sometimes it’s frustrating, but I want to put the energy into how people get services now.”
For information on mental health and other services, see:
ACI Family Services in Long Beach: https://acifamily.com/
The GREEN Foundation: the GREEN Foundation at www.thegreenfoundation.net
For the CBPP poverty tracking study, see