Baltimore City Health Department Hosts Celebration Recognizing Community Members Dedicated to Implementing Community-Based Trauma Services in West Baltimore

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Health officials discuss recently awarded grant focused on reducing impact of trauma in West Baltimore following April 2015 unrest

BALTIMORE, MD (October 11, 2016)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, and community leaders today hosted a celebration for partners and residents involved with the ReCAST West Baltimore project.

Last month, the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) announced that the agency had been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) program.The goal of ReCAST is to reduce the impact of trauma and build resilience in Central West Baltimore communities adversely impacted by the April 2015 unrest.

The program empowers community organizations from West Baltimore to implement high-quality, trauma-informed services to promote connectedness and resilience in youth.

“Decades of poverty, neglect, racism, and widespread disparities have resulted in generations of Baltimoreans suffering from the effects trauma in communities across our city. We must work together if we truly aim to recognize, treat, and prevent trauma,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “We are proud to convene these community leaders from across West Baltimore so that we can work in partnership to engage and support our city’s most valuable resource: our residents. Together, we will provide thousands with the tools and supports necessary to break systemic cycles of trauma and create a healthy, resilient, and well city.”

On Tuesday, health officials and community representatives discussed their shared commitment to implementing community-based services, including youth and community organizing, mentoring programs, youth development, and yoga/mindfulness activities across multiple sectors to:

  • Promote connectedness and resilience in youth;
  • Increase community cohesion; and
  • Link community-based organizations, youth leaders, and community residents with larger private and public institutions to create a support network and to increase access to resources.

"Too many residents across West Baltimore have been exposed to cycles of violence, loss and other traumatic experiences,” said Congressman Cummings. “Through this grant award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Baltimore City can empower community-based organizations working to provide our most vulnerable—including our young people—with critical mental and behavioral health care.”

The ReCAST West Baltimore project is led by BCHD and a Community Board, consisting of peer-elected resident representatives, which will guide the ongoing development and implementation of the project. Initially, a coalition of partners, community members, and others formed through the proposal development process. Those initial implementation partners included:

  • Behavorial Health Systems Baltimore
  • Black Mental Health Alliance
  • C&C Advocacy
  • Communities United
  • Elev8 Baltimore, a Division of Humanim
  • Holistic Life Foundation
  • Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
  • New Lens Youth Media
  • No Boundaries Coalition
  • Office of the State’s Attorney
  • Roberta’s House
  • Seeds of Promise
  • University of Maryland, School of Social Work

Under the convening umbrella of BCHD, these funded partners have committed to building the capacity of smaller, community-led organizations through efforts such as, hiring from the community, sub-granting, and providing technical assistance. This is the latest effort from the Baltimore City to prevent and ameliorate the impact of trauma in Baltimore City. Other recent efforts have included:

  • Collaborating with Baltimore City Public Schools to increase the capacity of school communities to meet the emotional and social needs of students who are experiencing the effects of trauma;
  • Convening the violence prevention B’More for Youth Collaborative;
  • Leading a city-wide effort to train frontline city workers on trauma-informed care;
  • Addressing violence and trauma through the lens of public health;
  • Piloting an expansion of Baltimore City’s Safe Streets program into emergency departments, utilizing Hospital Responders to resolve conflicts immediately after an altercation occurs to prevent retaliation; and
  • Recognizing that violence is a generational challenge impacted by the social determinants that shape people’s lives.

These efforts are critical components of Healthy Baltimore 2020, Baltimore City’s newly released strategic blueprint to promote health and well-being with one overarching vision to reduce health disparities in Baltimore by half over the decade.

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