Leading the Way to Community Healing
By Joty Sikand, Psy.D.
June 18, 2020
The importance of Community Behavioral Health Organizations (CBHOs) has been highlighted during the existing pandemic of COVID-19 and the nationwide frustration over the recent needless death of George Floyd, himself a survivor of the COVID-19 virus, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, leading to what has been called a "pandemic [of sadness and anger] within a pandemic." George Floyd's unnecessary and tragic death serves to illustrate the consequences of unaddressed public health needs when entangled with our too-often harsh criminal justice enforcement.
It takes a community to heal a community! The Hume Center, as a nationally recognized Community Mental Health Center, is leading the way to community healing. In response to the series of pandemics, we have concrete solutions to support the Community Mental Health movement for community healing through the following three projects: Advocacy, Professional Training and Leadership Speakers Bureau.
The Community Mental Health (CMH) movement in America can be traced back to President John F. Kennedy's administration when the nation sought to ensure federal funding would be available to support individuals being discharged from institutional care to live in the community. One of the movement's pioneers, Gerald Caplan, known as the father of Community Psychiatry who conceptualized practices of and approaches to CMH, above all the importance of mental health consultation and early identification through use of this consultation to institutional child care providers. Caplan's approach to CMH and the development of the prevention practices of mental health consultation offered a highly successful multi-disciplinary model that included psychiatrists and psychologists working with care givers.
This was subsequently expanded under R.K. Janmeja Singh, Ph.D. (Meji Singh) to organizations and other healing professionals including clinical social workers, counselors, educational and health care providers, and other human services professionals as well as non-professional family members and peer partners, dramatically leveraging coverage among first responders. Dr. Singh's contribution had a far reaching impact in communities as his contribution of organizational development consultation combined with an expansion of applying mental health consultation in group settings enhanced organizational structures and processes across various community organizations, health and human service agencies, military institutions, correctional facilities and law enforcement institutions. Under Dr. Singh's leadership efforts, highly skilled behavioral health interventions were multiplied through the work of many of the frontline professional service providers, adjunct service providers and caregivers. This lead the way for those in the community as front line human service workers to manage challenging behaviors of those they were serving in the community. Consequently, those same first responders were able to effectively perform their jobs in helping people within their respective scope of service as well as identify those individuals who actually needed mental health intervention through early case finding. Successfully implementing the practice of Community Behavioral Health Prevention transformed communities to care for the health of the individuals in their communities. It takes this skillful practice to implement communities to care for the public health needs of its individuals.
We still have a long way to go, as while we have supporting legislation for Community Mental Health, we do not have the adequate resources and funding to implement our federal, state, and local legislation into practice across various sectors of our community. As one of leading pioneers of community Mental Health, Portia Bell Hume, M.D. had the foresight that we cannot legislate change alone; we need to train people to
create change. With all of the aforementioned three founding Community Mental Health pioneers setting the foundation at The Hume Center, the leadership at The Hume Center have concrete solutions to support the Community Mental Health movement: Advocacy, Professional Training, and Behavioral Health Promotion. These solutions are essential actions to achieve the aspirations of the intention of the Community Mental Health movement in the following three critical ways:
1. Community Behavioral Health Advocacy: We have not provided enough funding and systems change for Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to support the transition from institutional care which begun as long ago as the early 1960s, with the result of increased homelessness among individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). This has meant that the full potential of community caring for individuals with mental health needs has never been realized. Instead, new venues for institutional "care"-jails, prisons, and detention centers-have unfortunately become the largest providers of behavioral health services and financial and service demands on costly psychiatric emergency and inpatient units have increased. There are proven skills and strategies to make change that
requires additional funding and increased system functioning.
If you are interested in joining this effort, you are welcome to join us as part of an active learning group in Community Behavioral Health Advocacy led by Co-Director Natasha Molony, PhD and I. Please send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Community Behavioral Health Training Center (
To develop adequate resources, there is a need for professional training in Community Behavioral Health Practice. California has been in the forefront of providing training to paraprofessionals and lay persons to help meet behavioral health needs of individuals in our community thanks to the passage of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), yet we have not continued to provide the essential professional training to assure a continued supply of skilled, sensitive individuals in our workforce who can offer effective, non-pharmaceutical interventions. While medications certainly have a place in treatment for many individuals, they are often used too broadly to push us toward a dependency model on medication that does little to promote crisis coping skills mechanisms.
The Hume Center has partnered with Human Liberation to develop the Community Behavioral Health Training Center, which will help provide valuable training for professionals to continue the community mental health movement. Please see this flier for more information.
If you are interested in joining Co-Director Meji Singh, PhD and I at our highly innovative postgraduate Community Behavioral Health Training Center, please send your contact information to email@example.com.
Leadership Speakers Bureau:
To create change, it takes leaders with mastered skills as a change agent to make an impact. At The Hume Center, we support our partners who are community leaders to lead this effort in addition to our Speakers Bureau of professional leaderful speakers.
If you are interested in speaking and/or connecting others to our leadership speaking forum opportunities, please send your contact information to Co-Director Chris Celio, PsyD and I at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It takes a collective force to make greater change. We invite you, as government decision makers,
professionals and paraprofessionals across disciplines, and caregivers at different levels to join us in this collective movement to heal our community!
With Warmest Gratitude,
Joty Sikand, Psy.D.
Portia Bell Hume Behavioral Health and Training Center