Racism and Healing – Focus on Youth Workers
This week I got to meet members of the Trinity Boston Counseling Center (TBCC), a program of Trinity Boston Connects.
TBCC provides mental health services and therapeutic supports to youth workers impacted by systemic racism. I listened in on a meeting where they reflected on the lack of resources for youth workers. I find it interesting how many of those who play vital roles in the guiding, teaching, and healing of communities are often left without a support system for themselves to work through and reflect on the unavoidable traumas inherent in their work, let alone receive support to keep such experiences from being potentially retraumatizing. Racism is traumatic especially for youth and youth workers of color.
Youth workers play an essential role in community support and development, but there are not enough resources for the workers themselves. Youth workers are put under a great deal of stress and not often asked about their own mental health and well-being. As front-line workers, their job requires patience, empathy, and strength, but many have not received the training, professional development and/or recognition needed to promote both their personal and professional sense of well-being and self-efficacy in their work. Many bring the gift of their personal experiences as youth to the work; that is often what makes them so effective and relevant. However, it can also make them more vulnerable if not given the right supports.
Can a youth worker be effective without work-related support systems that promote their overall health and well-being? I believe in order to show love and long-term care for another person or community, they must have ways to care for themselves, as well. Self-care usually requires more than one’s self; it takes family, friends, a community, and sometimes therapy to optimize mental wellness.
I can see that TBCC works cohesively with creativity and dedication to move through challenges. One idea they spoke of during this meeting is to have clinicians and youth workers come together in a communal learning setting, creating an environment of mutual support and a safe space for youth workers to express their feelings. I feel this would be a great step, in that being part of a group with fellow youth workers who have gone through similar experiences can provide a non-judgmental atmosphere to share experiences and thoughts. This atmosphere usually tends to have a positive impact on emotional wellness.
I felt that those in this meeting had great ideas and clear intentions. They were aware of where developmental work is needed. They were honest about the hurdles being faced.
Youth workers with interest in video therapy can sign up now.
Improving opportunities and resources for those impacted by systemic racism is a powerful and important mission during a time where there is so much division in political and social ideologies. With racial tensions persisting on a daily basis, and polarization at an all-time high, there is such a need to directly address health and mental health disparities. Anti-racism work is essential for the United States to evolve into a country that is less divided, more open-minded, and less hateful.
Organizations like Trinity Boston Connects inspire me to be an activist and get more involved in volunteering. I’m reminded that one doesn’t need to be a politician or philanthropist to enact change; each small step of activism sends waves of inspiration throughout communities, cities, and the whole world.
Gabriel Gallego, age 18, began volunteering at SEED Impact after graduating high school. He sits in on meetings with SEED clients as they reflect on their vision, obstacles, progression, and intended outcomes. Through these meetings Gabriel has been opened to a new world of non-profit organizations and their deeply profound goals and impacts, learning about a variety of important social causes of our time.