The Bridgeway View

Editor Cory Storch, CEO

Our own experiences at Bridgeway regarding minority mental health is backed up by information published by the American Psychiatric Association – the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness in minority communities is a barrier to seeking help for symptoms of mental illness. The other notable barrier is inaccessibility to services. Research from the American Psychiatric Association shows that only 31% of Black and Hispanic adults, and 22% of Asian adults whose lives are challenged by mental health conditions receive services.

National Minority Mental Health Month

National Minority Mental Health Month was instituted in July, 2008. Since then, national organizations like the American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America, Mental Health Association, and NAMI, have increased information and resources specifically designed to reach minority communities.

Mark Williams, Vice Chair of Bridgeway’s Board of Trustees, serves on the NAMI NJ Board, as well as on NAMI NJ’s AACT NOW Committee – African American Community Together – Now, NAMI’s Multicultural Mental Health Outreach Committee. Mark says “Those of us in positions of influence and access to resources need to work to ensure that no one struggles with the symptoms of mental illness due to cultural stigma, or lack of access to help. Bridgeway has several central and northern NJ locations in communities where minority groups dominate the population. As we speak, our Elizabeth Partial Care facility is beginning to offer outpatient substance abuse services which are sorely needed in Union County. This is a first for us. Now our job is to get the word out to the community.”

Despite his many years of experience and education in behavioral health, Mark continues to struggle on an emotional level with the fact that there is an alarming rise in the suicide rate among black men and boys in recent years. In addition to the obvious factors of ongoing challenges that plague all minority groups, including those who live in very rural areas, Mark points out that the African American community suffers disproportionately from lack of hope and the effects of toxic masculinity. Mark explains “Toxic masculinity among black men describes the pervasive high expectation to ‘man up’ and ‘fight it out’. Such historical patterns of cultural expectations don’t leave much room for self-care. Resilience against cultural stigma juxtaposed against the desire to not appear weak within a historical atmosphere of emasculating African American males is a subject that must be addressed if we are to address mental health issues in black communities in America.”

Many of the mental health struggles faced by minority groups begin early in life. Inadequate mental health resources in our schools translates into less success for all minority groups. Inability of elementary education to recognize the stresses that minority groups experience, including immigrant and LGBTQ students, contributes to their inability to reach their potential and become fully contributing members of the community.

Minority Mental Health Month in 2019 is an opportunity to think about how to use the tools at our disposal to eliminate cultural stigma, and ensure access to mental health services to a wide range of underserved minority communities, including students, those who may identify as part of the LGBTQ community, immigrant groups, and others who are often marginalized.

This month, Bridgeway’s social media sites and messaging will focus on stigma-busting and awareness of services in minority communities. You can help us by joining our online community, and sharing our mental health messages.

July 11th, 2019

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Community Wellness Fair

Bridgeway’s Partial Care Union (PCU) is hosting a Community Wellness Fair on May 15, 2019 at our 567 Morris Ave. location from 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM. As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we seek to provide the community with an opportunity to learn about Mental Illness and Substance Use. In raising awareness, it is important for all in the community to be involved, community-based organizations, parents, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, business owners, educators, and teens. Many individuals and families face mental health and addiction struggles alone. Others seek to learn to be healthy and to learn ways to deal with everyday life stresses. We hope to provide a fun opportunity for both to meet their needs. We have created an opportunity for over 30 community partners representing all the domains of wellness to come together, raise awareness, and meet members of their community.

While raising awareness is important, we also seek to help the community learn how to access needed services and supports in an effort to help them with real challenges they are facing. Bridgeway has been a leader in the field of mental health for decades, but many in our immediate community do not know we are here, in the heart of Elizabeth. We want to increase visibility and help the community see that we are a welcoming site where people can access services in a safe and comfortable environment. PCU delivers services to individuals who are experiencing issues with mental health and substance use. Individual and group counseling, skill training, career services, access to integrated healthcare, linkages and advocacy are all provided as well as many other services to help people lead full and satisfying lives.

The Community Wellness Fair will focus on the Eight Dimensions of Wellness featuring interactive and stimulating activities demonstrating. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are: spiritual, environmental, intellectual, emotional, physical, occupational, social, and financial. We welcome individuals, families with children, and even friendly pets to come and join in a fun-filled event that will help raise awareness, fight stigma, and foster a sense of community where we can help support those in need. 

Participating community partners:

Stop and Shop * Union County One Stop * Ebeneezer Church * Career Services * VNA * Division of Aging * Bridgeway HOST * 800 Gambler * St Joe’s Coalition * Santander Bank * Esperanza New Beginnings * TD Bank * Elizabeth Health Department * Rutgers University * Rapps Pharmacy * YMCA * Linden Police * PROCEED * Union County Meals on Wheels * Raritan Valley Community College * Choices * Salvation Army * Morning Star AME Church * Plainfield Self Help Center * Trinitas * Union County Medicaid * New Concept Beauty School * MHA * Bridgeway BTW * Community Reentry Project * Elizabeth Public Library * YWCA

May 8th, 2019

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