YMHP Statement on Racism in America, and its Impact on Mental Health

Black Lives Matter

The Youth Mental Health Project stands in solidarity with all who oppose racism and inequality in our nation, and we demand systemic change. We condemn all institutions and leaders who promote and perpetuate violence. We believe that Black Lives Matter. We are listening and we want to do better.

We know that It is not enough to acknowledge that inequalities exist. Now is the time to ask ourselves what we can do to create real change. We are committed to living in a country that protects, values, and respects both the physical and mental health of all people. We created The Youth Mental Health Project nearly four years ago with the hope of breaking down barriers to conversation about the uncomfortable and difficult topic of mental health in order to open the doors to healing. We strive to help create a world with less judgement, isolation, and fear.

While we are grateful that conversations about mental health are happening more often, we cannot be effective in our work without confronting the racial injustice and racial disparities that exist in all parts of our society. Structural racism causes emotional and mental harm, period. As Dr. Aletha Maybank, chief health equity officer at the American Medical Association, said on June 3, 2020, “whether we’re talking about more people dying of Covid, or at the hands of police, racism is ultimately the disease.”

The facts are clear: racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services than white people, are less likely to seek and receive mental health care, and when treated are more likely to receive poor-quality care. The experience of racism and historical trauma takes a huge toll on the mental health of black Americans.

As a nonprofit organization that seeks to create lasting change, we want to improve our own understanding of how to be better actors and allies. We are committed to doing our part to educate ourselves and others about the impact of systemic racism in our society. We will be coalition-building, and working to identify ways we can more equitably direct our resources to support black communities and other organizations working toward racial justice. We will strive to build a Board of Directors, staff, and volunteer force that is representative of all the communities that need our services.

Our program for parents and guardians who are concerned about the mental health of their children, The Parent Support Network™, was created to be a safe and supportive space for all adults who are concerned about their children, teens, and young adults. Support meetings of The Parent Support Network™ are free and available virtually to all parents and guardians in the nation, but we need to find ways to ensure that our program is accessible and available to families of color. We will do all we can to make that a reality.

Right now we will become a better ally by sharing black voices and experiences, promoting mental health education and resources that are directly relevant to black families, and providing educational resources about the mental health of diverse communities. Here is a starting point:

As we work to fight racial injustice, together we will build a stronger, safer, and more supportive world for everyone. During this time of grieving and protest, we’d like to remind you that caring for your mental health, and the mental health of your children, is essential. And you are not alone. 

Thank you,
Randi Silverman
Founder and Executive Director