Long Beach awards mental health provider contracts to serve Black residents – Press Telegram

The Long Beach City Council this week approved 27 contracts with mental health providers who will work specifically with under- and uninsured Black residents.

About one in five American adults reported experiencing symptoms of mental illness last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That’s a little more than 21% of the adult population.

Among Black Americans, those numbers tend to follow the national trend. But NAMI says Black adults are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, including sadness and hopelessness — common signs of depression.

Reports of mental health-related symptoms more than double for Black residents who live below the poverty line, according to NAMI — and they’re less likely to receive consistent mental health care.

The providers hired by the city will “provide culturally affirming mental health services to the Black community at-large,” according to a staff report. They’ll also work with various subgroups within Long Beach’s Black community, including young people, those who are LGBTQ, veterans, folks who are homeless and people with disabilities.

Long Beach’s selection committee evaluated 30 proposals from various mental health providers — including agencies, community organizations and consultants — and determined the selected 27 demonstrated expertise in providing mental health treatment focused on the varying needs of individuals within the Black community.

The contracts will cost a combined $300,000, which the city will pay for with Long Beach Recovery Act money. That act, approved in May 2021, is funded by the Federal American Rescue Plan.

The city allocated about $2.8 million to its Health Equity Fund Program under the recovery act. The Black Mental Health program is included within the Health Equity Fund, according to a staff report.

“Creating a healthy and safe city for all Long Beach communities is the second pillar of the Recovery Plan,” the staff report from the Tuesday, April 19, council meeting, said, “and the recommended programs and services in this category focus on addressing the underlying social determinants of health and prioritizing the needs of those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.”

Thelese Consulting Group, Fuller Life Concepts, and Divinely Restored Health & Wellness of Long Beach are a few of the agencies awarded contracts. A full list is available on the city’s website.

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