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Responding to Racism and Mental Health Inequity

2 Jun 2020 — 1 min read

BY Robert Gebbia, AFSP Chief Executive Officer

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Dear Friends,

The past few months have been challenging, as we’ve worked to manage our health, our work, our families and our overall well-being. As we were starting to feel that maybe the worst of the pandemic was behind us, we were outraged by the horrific killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as others before them. We send heartfelt condolences to their families and share their conviction that justice must be served.

It’s hard to put into words the sadness and frustration we feel as we witness the pain and continued inequities in our country. As an organization, we condemn racism and will work to eliminate injustice in our field of mental health and suicide prevention.  We acknowledge that institutional racism, systemic poverty, blatant discrimination, and unconscious bias impact the daily lives of millions of black and brown families, and that this directly impacts their mental health.

As a health organization, we will also continue to speak out about the inequities in access to healthcare, and especially mental health, for people of color, and to advocate for ending these disparities. And we will continue to encourage all Americans to take care of their mental health during this very traumatic time.

We also recognize we have a lot more to do to address mental health and suicide prevention in communities of color. Last year, AFSP made a commitment in its new strategic plan to address diversity and inclusion in both our leadership and programs - a goal we are committed to and are working to accomplish. 

As an employer, AFSP will continue to treat all of our employees equally and with respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, or any other differences. At AFSP, we don’t just accept differences - we celebrate them, we support them, and we thrive on them for the benefit of our employees, our services, and our community.

To bring about societal changes that will end racism, we support open and honest conversations, peaceful demonstrations, and listening to those for whom racism is a daily, painful reality.

During this difficult time, AFSP remains dedicated to its mission of saving lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide – and to supporting one another, and standing together against intolerance.

Bob Gebbia, CEO, AFSP

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AFSP's partner, Psych Hub, has compiled a list of resources on antiracism and Black mental health. Click here to view the resources.

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