Racism, Violence and Mental Health

The Mental Health Association stands in solidarity with the protestors, community members, and organizations who are calling for justice and commitment to change.

We abhor the racial injustice and violence perpetrated on people of color and recognize its impact on all aspects of life, including mental health. The Mental Health Association is a statewide advocacy organization founded on the principles of social justice, viewed through the lens of mental health. Actions taken in the past two weeks, the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests across our nation have focused our attention on police brutality and racism. It is clear that people of color who have been marginalized by those in power have to contend with additional stress as they function in this reality. As the President of our national association, Paul Gionfriddo, states… “Racism and bigotry cause people to take on a mental health burden deeper than that faced by others. This level of community distress brings out into the open the trauma and stress people of color experience on a daily basis.”

As an advocacy organization, a significant portion of our work is systems advocacy – working to improve access and equality among systems of care – mental health, health, criminal justice, substance use disorders. It is time to direct our efforts to the effects that racism is having on our citizens and their mental health. We must take responsibility for offering leadership to combat institutional injustices as well as exploring and working to understand with colleagues and those we serve. We are committed to policies that drive equality– to having open conversations, listening, educating ourselves and others, and working together toward solutions that impact inequities here in New Jersey. We are heartened by the statements put forward by so many organizations within our state and look forward to working together for the future.