SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg held a private roundtable discussion with community leaders at Luther Burbank High School Saturday to discuss the issue of mental health in the African American community.
Afterward, Steinberg held a news conference announcing a call to action. The mayor would like for trained mental health professionals to step forward, volunteer their time, and help serve those in the African American community suffering from mental health trauma.
Part of the mission for volunteers, the mayor said, is to let members of the community know it’s ok to seek help.
“There is a lot of stigma, and sometimes shame,” Steinberg said.
And while Steinberg says the issue of mental health is bigger than any one person, he acknowledges the actions of Stevante Clark were the catalyst for change.
Clark’s behavior in the days after his brother Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento Police eventually lead to his arrest Thursday. He’s currently in jail facing charges for assault and making threats.
“When Stevante Clark came to the city council, not the first time, but the second time, and said loud and clear on television that, ‘I’m hurtin,’ we all said collectively that there is no shame,” the mayor said, flanked by two dozen community and faith-based leaders.
Unity of Sacramento Church is one organization stepping forward. Pastors there announced they will help create what’s being called “safe black space” – a confidential support circle for African Americans seeking spiritual and mental health services. The church also plans to construct a green space area on its property known as Grandma’s Backyard.
“Grandma’s Backyard is a safe place our youth can run to heal, chill, grow and shine. It is more than a park. It’s a healing oasis for traumatized black youth,” said Reverend Eric Donaldson, Senior Associate Minister.
“This is a big part of it. Addressing trauma in appropriate ways. Making trauma-based mental healthcare a priority in our community,” the mayor echoed.
In the following months, Steinberg says they will be recruiting hundreds of people, training them in mental health issues, and asking them to volunteer 50 hours of their time throughout the course of a year. The goal, he says, is to garner 10 thousand hours of volunteer time dedicated to mental health in the black community.
For anyone wishing to volunteer the mayor says you can sign up at bit.ly/calltoheal.