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Racism is a Health Crisis event continues conversation with healthcare leaders and providers about county-wide declaration

May 10, 2021

The Indiana University South Bend Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences Inclusive Action Advisory Council in partnership with the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center will invite community health leaders to continue an online discussion entitled, Racism is a Health Crisis: Intersections of Mental Health & Public Safety, broadcast live over Zoom on May 18, 2021 from 6pm to 7:30pm.

In July 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, many white people increased their awareness of the health disparities for Black and Brown communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, the St. Joseph County Board of Health made a bold declaration that racism in St. Joseph County is a health crisis. Following that declaration, in October 2020, the Indiana University South Bend Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences and Civil Rights Heritage Center hosted a community wide conversation about the declaration and its impact on our local healthcare systems. To continue promoting dialogue and community transformation, the conversation will continue; this time, focusing on the intersections of mental health and public safety.

The County’s declaration says, among its many statements, that racism adversely affects lifelong health outcomes beginning even before birth…and harms individuals and communities by causing unequal access to quality education, employment, livable wages, healthy foods, stable and affordable housing, and safe and sustainable communities.

The impact of racism goes far beyond physical health. It is especially important to recognize the collective trauma of our community and the extraordinary burdens faced by area healthcare professionals. Through this proactive dialogue, we aspire to build intentional spaces to begin this collective healing process.

Some of the questions we will address are:

  • What are the connections between historical trauma and ongoing mental health in an environment of increased scrutiny and accountability for police departments?
  • How can we collectively advocate for the decriminalization of mental health issues and the reallocation of resources to address this need?

Attendees must register for free by visiting

The event is specifically meaningful for current students and faculty in the IU South Bend Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health; South Bend community healthcare workers and leaders; advocates and allies of social justice movements; and current high school students with an interest in a healthcare career (e.g. Washington High School medical magnet students).

Participation in the event is free, and while all members of the public are warmly invited to participate, those interested in the intersections between mental health and social justice are especially welcome.

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