Racial trauma is a form of race-based stress that refers to reactions to real or perceived experiences of racial discrimination. The difference between racial trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], psychologists say, is that PTSD typically refers to past events. Due to the prevalence of racism, racial trauma refers to ongoing experiences. Experiences include threats of harm and injury, humiliating and shameful events and witnessing discrimination.
On Tuesday, a law firm and two legal aid nonprofits jointly filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Allegheny County and three top officials of the Allegheny County Jail [ACJ], alleging “inadequate” treatment and “dehumanizing and unlawful” conditions for inmates with psychiatric disabilities.
No personal visitors, hardly any time for inmates outside of their cells and chronic vacancies in mental health and health staff raise concerns that the mental health of Allegheny County Jail [ACJ] inmates is deteriorating, according to inmates recently incarcerated there, family members of current inmates, advocates and current and former ACJ staff.
As incidents both local and national continue to raise questions about policing and mental health, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services [DHS] has quietly convened a panel that appears to be reviewing the public safety and social services response to behavioral health crises. The 28-member Allegheny County Crisis Response Stakeholder Group held its first full meeting, virtually, on Friday. The meeting included remarks by DHS staff including Director Marc Cherna, plus county Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, and representatives of The Pittsburgh Foundation* and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Its formation does not appear to have been heralded by any public announcement. It comes as the city sees near-daily protests demanding changes in policing, sometimes including calls to “defund” police, which some describe as the shift of law enforcement resources to human services or community building.
We’ll likely be wearing masks in public spaces for the foreseeable future (at least, those of us who are following the rules), and with mask-wearing now the new normal, what does that mean for those of us who are deaf and hard of hearing?
When stay-at-home orders were enacted in late March, many people experiencing homelessness had nowhere to go. Shelters around the city saw increases in demand and have had to adapt to this new reality, taking measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, keep residents occupied and help people living on the streets. These new conditions have had an impact on residents’ mental health and, combined with heightened demand, have increased shelters’ operating costs.
The number of Allegheny County residents dying of opioid overdoses is rising again, after a drop of 40% in 2018 had many health experts hoping the tide of the epidemic had turned. The most recent data shows that the county had a 15% increase in overdose deaths in 2019. The 564 overdose deaths in 2019 were the third highest yearly total, according to data from Overdose Free PA. In 2016 and 2017, there were 650 and 737 total overdose deaths respectively. And the epidemic may only be getting worse in 2020, according to overdose data provided by the city of Pittsburgh, the county health department and the nonprofit Prevention Point Pittsburgh.
During the first five months of 2020 Allegheny County recorded a 28% increase in the total number of times emergency responders administered naloxone for an overdose compared to the first five months of 2019.
Pittsburgh recorded a 50% increase in overdose calls during that same time period.
Do you often find yourself hiding in the bathroom while on the phone? Are small, uninvited guests constantly crashing your Zoom calls?
If so, there’s a good chance you’re a working parent.
For many working parents, whether they’re working remotely or outside of the home, the pandemic has made juggling job and family duties even tougher.
“We jokingly say that we’re playing hot potato,” Ashley Zahorchak said of caring for her 7-month-old baby while she and her husband work from home. Zahorchak serves as the director of youth services and STEM education at YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. “Whoever is not on a call or on a meeting, we’re juggling parenting duties like that.”
It’s been over two months since the COVID-19 shutdown disrupted the work-life balance, and daycare centers in the state are now allowed to reopen. Yet some parents are still facing many unprecedented challenges, said Heather Hopson, creator of Single Mom Defined, an art project and blog that celebrates Black motherhood.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and amid the pandemic, mental health support is more important than ever. Helpful tips are everywhere on the internet, but nothing replaces personal experiences. So, to amplify mental health stories in Pittsburgh area and curate local perspectives, we reached out to about a dozen community leaders and invited them to answer three questions.
The emergence of COVID-19 has put health care in breaking news. Every day, we hear of the tragic deaths due to this pandemic. We are also hearing of heroic efforts by healthcare workers, what they are doing for their patients and how communities are coming together to help one another out in this trying time. COVID-19 has also exposed weaknesses in the U.S. healthcare system, like the lack of personal protective equipment, poor regulations on long-term care facilities and poor response from government agencies.
Another weakness to consider is the stigma and bias that those with mental health disorders and substance use disorders experience in the healthcare system. The bias and stigma come directly from healthcare professionals.
I know firsthand the effects of stigma and bias on patients because I have been working in health care for 22 years; 19 of those years have been serving people with mental health and substance use disorders.