ln order to eliminate health disparities for boys and men of color, it is important to understand and address root causes. An existing and growing body of research suggests that disparities result from a complex interplay of factors at the individual, interpersonal, community, and macro levels. Disparities among boys and men of color are largely the result of a cumulative set of factors, which include adverse socioeconomic conditions, lack of health insurance, and unequal access to health care, as well as lack of quality education, adequate housing, and employment. Considering the social determinants of health, this population also experiences disproportionate levels of trauma, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness, over-medication, and high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Mental Health First Aid™ will provide training to Sacramento area boys and men of color. The training and education program will deliver clinical and holistic prevention and early intervention strategies while increasing awareness opportunities for treatment and linkages to care.
Trauma has sometimes been defined solely in reference to circumstances that are outside normal human experience. This definition does not fully encompass the experiences of the young boys and men of color who are the focus of this project.
For them, traumatic experiences may become an almost routine part of everyday existence. Besides violence, assault, and other traumatic events, African American and Latino males often experience more subtle and insidious forms of trauma.
Their exposure to discrimination, racism, oppression, and poverty is pervasive. When experienced chronically, these events have a cumulative impact that can be fundamentally life-altering. Such traumas are directly related to chronic fear and anxiety, with serious long-term effects on health and other life outcomes for males of color. Yet to be fully developed is an understanding of the multiple ways in which repetitive and multigenerational exposure to violence, oppression, neglect, discrimination, criminalization and poverty can impact individuals and entire communities.
This work focuses on boys and men of color who have experienced and are still experiencing such forms of structural and systemic trauma. A term related to trauma is "adversity," which helps to clarify what people of color experience in the United States. It includes not just experiences outside usual human experience, but those that have become all too much a part of everyday existence.