May 25 2021
Arlington, VA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released the following statement from CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr.:
“For many of us, today elicits complicated emotions.
“We are encouraged by the tens of thousands across the country who expressed solidarity with the Black community in the wake of George Floyd’s death and those who continue to do so. We are relieved by steps taken toward accountability through the conviction of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. We are even hopeful for more change as we see our nation continue conversations about racial disparities.
“But we are also still frustrated, knowing the systemic issues that enabled this tragedy remain. We are still grieving, knowing nothing can truly rectify the loss of another Black life, which could have easily been our own, a family member or a friend. More than anything, we feel the exhaustion from the racial trauma that continues to negatively impact our physical and mental health.
“Here at NAMI, we recognize that there are no quick and easy solutions to the systemic racism that has permeated every aspect of our society for far too long. Today, only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. But we are committed to keep striving toward more equitable and just practices within our own organization and within the mental health community.
“That’s why over the last year we have created and bolstered our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work, increased the amount of Black mental health resources on our website, hosted a series of Help Not Handcuffs webinars, and championed legislation that will allow individuals in mental health crises an alternative to a 911 law enforcement response for support. And that’s why we have intentionally integrated anti-racist initiatives into our five-year strategic plan.
“We cannot ignore the intersection of race, identity and mental health. And we are determined to do our part in dismantling barriers to accessing culturally competent resources for every individual in our country.”
If you need help processing some of the difficult emotions brought up today, please know that NAMI is here for you. You are not alone. Visit nami.org/help to access resources or talk with a trained volunteer through phone, online chat, or text.