Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

On May 2, the full County Council commemorated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.”

The Council's video for AAPI Heritage Month features Councilmember Kristin Mink, the Council's first-ever Asian American Councilmember, and other Asian American and Pacific Islanders making a difference through government, the nonprofit sector, medicine, education, and entrepreneurship.

On May 6, our Community of Engagement (CoE) and MoCo ReConnect program leadership hosted a community conversation about youth homelessness, highlighting the experiences of individual youth who have experienced homelessness themselves, and also engaging people in conversation who have worked in a professional capacity supporting local youth. Though the conversation was a tough one to have, it was equally enlightening. We thank everyone who participated, with special thanks to the young people who were willing to share their stories.

The Collaboration Council has been busy working with community partners to implement The Basics in Montgomery County, including sharing information with parents and caregivers at a variety of community events. On May 20, our team spread the word about The Basics at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, including offering some fun Basics-inspired activities for younger children.

The Basics, which is a free program, consists of five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles that promote high-quality cognitive and social-emotional development among children 0-5. Based on these five pillars, The Basics campaign supports community-level initiatives to improve early childhood outcomes, including kindergarten readiness.The Basics provides handouts, videos, and implementation guides to help communities teach parents and caregivers about the five pillars and their importance to children’s growth and learning.

To learn more, visit collaborationcouncil.org/thebasics

Cultivating Awareness of Disparities in Mental Health Care

The prevalence of mental illness means it touches all our lives. According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), each year 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 experience a mental illness, and 1 in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness. Access to care also affects broad swaths of Americans: 160 million people live in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area.

COVID-19 heightened both the number of people suffering and the challenges in accessing care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in February 2022, roughly one-third (32%) of adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, and 27% of those adults reported having unmet mental health care needs.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while general awareness is important, it needs to be coupled with a recognition of deep disparities in mental health diagnosis and treatment.

For example, in 2019, 9% of both Black and white adults reported moderate or severe symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. However, 64% of white adults suffering from a mental health disorder received treatment compared to 47% of Black adults. To learn more, see the Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief: How Does Use of Mental Health Care Vary by Demographics and Health Insurance Coverage?

NAMI addresses many of the issues affecting various groups and communities in the Identity and Cultural Dimensions section of its website, which includes a list of ways advocates and providers can help promote a culture of equity and inclusion, making this key point: "Do not assume that low treatment rates by members of a cultural or social group is due to a lack of effort in seeking care. Instead, consider any underlying challenges – individuals are less likely to seek help or engage in treatment if they cannot find a provider they can trust, who understands their identity and will treat them with dignity and respect."

Another great resource with a local focus is Minority Voices 2022: Our Mental Health Journey, a new report from Montgomery County’s three minority health initiatives/programs: the African American Health Program, Latino Health Initiative, and Asian American Health Initiative (all part of the Department of Health and Human Services).

This report features 27 Montgomery County residents who share their mental health journeys. The report also includes local resources and a call to action (pages 12-13) suggesting ways everyone can get involved to help address longstanding disparities, strengthen systems of care to welcome ethnically diverse communities, and ensure linguistic and culturally responsive services and resources for a healthy community.

Access to mental health care is also an issue for children and youth. The Collaboration Council's Pathway to Services office is a specialized access point providing information that connects youth and their caregivers to community-based mental health and behavioral health supports and services. Youth requiring a higher level of intensive services are referred to our Local Care Team (LCT), which also serves as the access point to wraparound care, a strengths-based, family-driven process. For more information, visit our Access to Care program page.

DID YOU KNOW? In 2021, 33.5% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder. That's 19.4 million individuals.

Another aspect of mental health requiring greater awareness and action is the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse, which grew worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are several reasons why the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance use disorder is so prevalent: common risk factors can contribute to both substance use disorders and mental disorders; people with anxiety, depression or PTSD may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication; and substance use can trigger changes in brain structure and function that make a person more likely to develop a mental disorder. Co-occurring disorders can complicate diagnosis and treatment. To learn more, visit samhsa.gov/co-occurring-disorders 

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs to talk, call or text the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Or call the Montgomery County Hotline at 301-738-2255.

For more information, see Everymind's crisis support page.

Welcome, Amy!

The Collaboration Council welcomes Amy Southerland as our new Communications Manager. Prior to joining our team, Amy worked for two decades as a freelance writer and communications consultant, including recent work for the Collaboration Council and numerous projects for Nonprofit Montgomery and its collective impact initiative, Montgomery Moving Forward. Amy is passionate about using her skills to support people and programs committed to creating equitable opportunities and enriching communities. Before moving east from her native Kansas City in 2003, Amy worked as Communications Project Manager at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. She holds an M.A. in English and M.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, and a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Welcome to our Collab Corner. Each month, we ask Collaboration Council staff members to share a little about their personal interests or pastimes things they've been doing to relax, recharge, learn something new, or just have fun.

Bezil Taylor

Community Engagement Specialist

The month of May marks the beginning of a very exciting time of year. Seeing the pride on students’ and their loved ones faces as they celebrate graduation brings me so much joy. Graduations also signify transitional periods in the lives of those around us. Watching young people move from high school to college, or from college into the work world, brings me hope for the future and reinforces the work we do at the Collaboration Council. I also just love the togetherness of these types of celebrations. The warm weather in the DMV (even with my terrible allergies) inspires me to gather my closest friends and family and spend as much time together as possible. Whether it is eating tacos on a patio, or shopping at the street market of my favorite sneaker shop in Silver Spring, I love springtime in this area. Keep your antihistamines and loved ones close and have an amazing spring! 

Mark Your Calendar: Things to Do in June

Celebrate Pride Month!

Join us on Friday, June 30 from 3pm to 7pm at Marian Fryer Town Plaza in downtown Wheaton (2424 Reedle Drive, Wheaton, MD 20902) for the MoCo ReConnect Block Party. This free event will celebrate pride and highlight young artists from Montgomery County. There will be visual art, spoken word, music, food and games.

Also, In anticipation of Pride Month, Montgomery County Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Partnerships have teamed up to issue a countywide call to artists and designers to create the official 2023 Montgomery County Pride decal. The decal will be used by businesses, nonprofits, county government entities, and other establishments to show their public support for LGBTQ+ communities. The deadline for submissions is June 1. For design specifications and artist eligibility, visit montgomerycountypride.org.

Here are more events to check out in June.


Takoma Pride

Sunday, June 11

10am to 2pm

6929 Laurel Avenue

Takoma Park, MD 20912

More info

Pride in the Plaza Festival

Sunday, June 25

Noon to 8pm

1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD 20910

More Info


Juneteenth, Journey to Freedom

Saturday, June 17

Noon to 10pm

BlackRock Center for the Arts

12901 Town Commons Drive

Germantown, MD 20874

More info

3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 17

Noon to 5pm

Sandy Spring Museum

17901 Bentley Road

Sandy Spring, MD 20860

More info

Main Street Gives Back:

Juneteenth Service Projects

Monday, June 19

11am to 1pm

Soulfull Cafe

50 Monroe Place

Rockville, MD 20850

As part of this Juneteenth event, Main Street Connect will be collecting donations of supplies for the youth served by the Collaboration Council's MoCo ReConnect Drop-In Center.

More info

Thank you for your continued support of children, youth and families in Montgomery County.
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