Last year, a San Francisco news station reported on a CDC study chronicling the disproportionate levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD—usually associated with war veterans) among mostly black and brown youth living in the inner-city. In the segment, the reporter quoted someone who called the condition “Hood Disease,” and the offensive term went viral.
If there were a disease connected to this social reality, it should have been one calling out years of our collective silence and indifference. This inaction amounts to our complicity in the structural and systemic factors that have led to epidemic levels of violence in neighborhoods around the country, like the one IMAN works in. Failing schools, lack of meaningful employment, an eviscerated safety net and a host of conditions that criminalize and further marginalize youth of color make violence all but inevitable in certain zip codes.
Ramadan is a time for us to honestly examine our spiritual and social realities, and to actually work towards a greater healing. Through its free behavioral health services, youth programs, corner store intervention work, housing rehabilitation and weekly farmers’ market, IMAN is attempting to do its part to contribute to this collective healing process.
Please pray for our work during this special month and help us to reach and exceed our 2015 Ramadan Drive Goal with your generous zakat-eligible, tax-deductible donation. We can’t do this work without your support. May the Most High envelop us all in the spirit of Mercy and Healing this Ramadan!
From March 18th to 22nd, an IMAN delegation visited Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) Policy and Issues Forum, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of U.S. Community Health Centers. The Forum engaged leaders in the community health field, hosted discussions on best practices, and, most importantly, was a site of intense advocacy. Health care funding is at a critical stage: If Congress does not act, the Health Center Fund will expire on September 30, 2015, reducing funding up to 70%.
During this four-day trip, we heard IMAN’s community health model being confirmed — that our present health clinic and future health center must always be an integral part of community organizing work. While in D.C., IMAN staff learned from Congressman Danny K. Davis and other long-time activists that the history of community health centers in the United States is steeped in intentional community activism. Dolores Huerta, who famously organized with Cesar Chavez, delivered a passionate speech stating that community organizers should be part of every community health center’s staff. Steadfast in commitment to dignity and justice, we must never lose sight of the fact that health care is a human right and protecting resources that provide these services is critical.
On February 14, IMAN’s Health Clinic partnered with HEART Women & Girls to host an event supporting ‘V-Day’ – the international movement to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Attendees had a lively discussion about factors that can lead to domestic violence, as well as ways to avoid problematic relationships with abusers. Sarah Hasan of HEART Women & Girls spoke about the importance of creating safe environments that allow people to speak about violence they may be experiencing. As the event ended, those in attendance committed to becoming supporters for survivors of violence in the community.
Continuing the work of bolstering community support, IMAN’s Behavioral Health Program has happily accepted two graduate student interns from the University of Chicago School of Service Administration. Sherylene Heah (‘16) and Hannah Zangwill (‘16) began their internships on January 13th, and will serve for the remainder of the academic year. They each have previous experience at the TCA Health Inc. clinic on Chicago’s South Side. Sherylene, a native of Malaysia, has previous medical social work experience in Singapore and is interested in chronic disease management. Hannah, originally from Georgia, has an interest in working with the aged. Sherylene and Hannah will spend two days a week at the Health Clinic, where they’ll be familiarized with behavioral health issues, receive clinical training, case management and cultural competency skills.
Last week, the IMAN Health Clinic restarted its training relationship with the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA). After several exchanges and a brief field placement coordinator interview, SSA reactivated the IMAN Health Clinic’s status as a field placement site. The Clinic’s Behavioral Health program previously served as a field placement site for social work students interested in clinical work, as well as organizing and advocacy issues. The Behavioral Health program will take up to two Master’s level social work students for the 2015-2016 academic year and engage them in clinical work and advocacy.
Students in the SSA program will be able to read a description of IMAN’s Behavioral Health program and apply to be an intern in the Health Clinic beginning in January/February 2015. Following a similar process, the Behavioral Health program will also accept up to two graduate student trainees in clinical psychology from Chicago area universities. The Health Clinic is excited to resume training students for behavioral health, as we continue to address the overwhelming need for behavioral and mental health services in our communities.