Montgomery County is raising awareness to the individual mental health struggles encountered by racial and ethnic minority communities. Through storytelling and activities the County’s orgnaizations will be amplifying the voices of these minority communities. Stories will be collected through August 19, so you have time to work on your story!
Montgomery County’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), African American Health Program (AAHP) and Latino Health Initiative (LHI) are collaborating as part of the County’s recognition of July as “Minority Mental Health Month” to bring awareness to the unique mental health struggles faced by racial and ethnic minority communities. The project will include collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journeys, along with activities throughout the month.
County residents who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, African American/Black or Hispanic are encouraged to share their stories at Minority Voices- Personal Stories. Multiple languages are available by clicking on the drop-down menu at the top of the page. The stories will be collected through Aug.19.
The stories will be combined into a report to highlight both similar and unique challenges in mental health across minority groups.
“Health is wealth, and that includes mental health, “ said Betty Lam, chief of the Office of Community Affairs for the County’s Department of Health and Human Services. “I applaud our minority health programs for uplifting the voices of underrepresented communities by collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journey and highlighting messages of hope and resilience.”
In addition to capturing Minority Voices—Personal Stories, each initiative/program is recognizing Minority Mental Health Month with various educational and outreach activities targeted to the community they serve.
Some of the ways that Minority Mental Health Month is being recognized will include:
Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI)
In response to the rising suicide rate and suicide attempts among Asian American youth in Montgomery County, AAHI launched a community toolkit focused on Adolescent Mental Health in English, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, and Vietnamese.
County community organizations are adopting these toolkits and are holding virtual workshops on the needs of Asian American adolescent mental health for the community on:
- Saturday, July 30: In Hindi by the Asian American Inter Community Service (AICS)
- Sunday, July 31: In Vietnamese by the Vietnamese Literary and Artistic Club (VLAC)
African American Health Program (AAHP)
To address the disparities of African Americans being 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, the African American Health Program (AAHP) and the Black Physicians Health Network provide resources, including the ability to see a mental health provider at no cost. Visit the Black Physicians Health Network website for more information and take a free online mental health screening.
Latino Health Initiative (LHI)
LHI, through Identity Inc., offers several programs to support the mental health of Latino and underserved residents and families.
Encuentros (Encounters) provides non-clinical trauma-informed emotional support groups through a series of nine sessions offered in Spanish. Participants share tools to cope with difficult situations, such as grieving, traumas and those specific to immigration and separation/reunification, managing anxiety, improving their self-care and learning to manage their emotions. For more information, contact Mónica Wainbarg at 240-750-3101 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Anali Torres at 240-477-3227 or email@example.com.
The Family Reunification Services Program supports Latino families impacted by deeply rooted and mostly unaddressed intergenerational trauma. This evidence-based, trauma-informed program consists of five sessions of group-level programming for parents/caregivers and five sessions of group-level programming for youth. A final sixth session brings parents/caregivers and youth together. For more information, contact Tomas Rodriguez at 240-306-7188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the minority health programs, visit:
Montgomery County has returned to the elevated to “high” community level of COVID-19, according to County data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
COVID-19 cases also are increasing throughout the nation as Omicron’s BA.5 variant has become the predominant strain circulating. The BA.5 variant spreads easily, and while symptoms are generally not severe, it is still important to practice important COVID-19 prevention steps.
Based on high community level, the CDC recommends the following steps:
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
- Wear a well-fitting face covering indoors in public, regardless of your vaccination status.
- Get tested if you have symptoms or are exposed.
- If you are high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions and whether you are a candidate for treatments.
Montgomery County continues to vaccinate children ages 6 months to 5 years old. To date, nearly 5,000 children in this age group have been vaccinated. Parents are encouraged to protect their children and get them vaccinated.
The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Multiple vaccination clinics are held weekly and appointments are encouraged, but not required. Learn about upcoming clinics and make an appointment at www.GoVaxMoCo.com.
The Maryland Department of Health also is providing vaccines to pediatricians and participating private local pharmacies.
“It is good news that this last age group is now eligible to receive their vaccine doses,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We know that many parents are anxious to get their babies and young children vaccinated as quickly as possible. As we have seen with previous vaccine rollouts, we expect great demand over the next couple of weeks for these vaccines with limited supply available. Because the majority of the vaccines are going to private pediatric providers, we encourage all parents to check with their pediatrician’s office before using our website to sign up for an appointment. I am grateful for the preparation, planning and outreach efforts from DHHS and our community partners to ensure equitable access to these vaccines. Getting vaccinated and boosted is important to our COVID mitigation efforts, and we continue to encourage everyone to make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations.”
County-operated clinics for this age group will focus on weekend clinics and will include some weekday evening hours. Appointments are required at this time. The County will continue to receive doses from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), with the majority of doses going to private physicians and pharmacies.
“We know that many parents have been anxiously awaiting the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for younger children,” said James Bridgers, the acting County health officer. “Because vaccine delivery amount will take some time to ramp up, parents are urged to be patient, as there will not be enough supply initially to vaccinate all eligible children immediately. The Maryland Department of Health has assured local health departments across the State that vaccine supplies will continue to be distributed weekly.”
The County will work to ensure the vaccine is distributed equitably, which includes hosting clinics in areas where vaccination rates are lower. County-operated clinics will require appointments, initially, to ensure that there is enough vaccine at each site. MCPS is working with DHHS to help community members make appointments.
For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website.