Addressing the pandemics of Covid-19 and racial injustice: A statement from Clifford Beers CEO Alice
Dear Friends of Clifford Beers,
I wanted to take a moment to honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Mubarak Soulemane and Ahmaud Arbery. Their deaths, and so many others, resulting from brutal mistreatment by racially biased law enforcement, shake to the core the health and wellness of our community. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the health disparities of communities of color around the country as black and brown folks have been disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic. The simultaneous occurrence of these two epidemics--pandemic and racism--have exacerbated an already volatile situation, and further compromised the mental health of the affected populations. Clifford Beers must make its opinion known in the community.
Our founder Clifford W. Beers fought for those who suffered from mental health problems. He changed the systems that allowed for the "insane" to be locked away to keep society safe. He fought, despite his own mental illness, for dignity and respect for those who suffer. Today, while we continue to fight for those who suffer from mental illness, we must also center and prioritize the black and brown folks in our community who do not have equal access to diagnosis, treatment and care. People of color are disproportionately impacted by untreated trauma, and this needs to be addressed.
Our children and adults who witnessed the murder of Mr. Floyd on the news are once again traumatized and made fearful for their lives. We know that this persistent and chronic stress may lead to physical, mental and social health problems. We will, at Clifford Beers, continue to draw attention to racially motivated trauma as a public health issue that necessitates a consistent public health response. The place to start this public health response is within police departments.
Police officers often do not receive the help they need in order to recover from trauma they may have experienced on the job or in their personal lives. By failing to address their issues in a proactive and therapeutic manner, police departments may unintentionally create the very problems that we see manifesting themselves all over the country in such highly-visible incidents. We must insist that law enforcement address mental health issues by systematically assessing and evaluating their workforce both prior to hiring and during their employment for signs of stress and bias.
Clifford Beers’ Leadership Team vowed to keep anti-racism top of mind as we work in our communities. To this end, Clifford Beers is proud to announce that we have partnered with 4-CT, a statewide COVID-19 relief effort to connect nonprofits to the people who need it most. With this partnership brings our new warmline, Reach Out Connecticut at
1-844-TALK-4-CT. This toll-free number is available for call-ins statewide. It operates Monday through Thursday 8:30AM to 7:00PM and Friday 8:30AM to 6:00PM by resourceful mental health support staff of Clifford Beers who speak English and Spanish.
This compassionate, non-clinical care line is intended to serve as a resource for people who just need to talk, have questions, or need to be pointed in the right direction for resources and help of any kind. Many people have called asking for resources for food, infant supplies, and emotional support. Clifford Beers supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement and encourages anyone to call Reach Out Connecticut if you are feeling upset or unsupported – #WeAreHere to listen and comfort.
As the CEO of Clifford Beers, I ask you to join with us to create action that promotes humanity, paying close attention to the root causes of mental health distress and examining them with care. Clifford Beers has worked over the last 107 years to change the systems that cause so much injury. We must uphold this legacy during these difficult times and continue the mission of our founder Clifford W. Beers.
His compassion for people with mental illness changed how we view and treat behavioral health. He was not a man without flaws and struggled throughout his life. We are no different in our essential humanity. But, it is up to us to create a more just and healthy future for the kids and the families we serve.
Alice Forrester, PhD
Chief Executive Officer