Honoring Juneteenth & Addressing Racial Disparities in Mental Health Access

Special thanks and photo credit to Clay Banks [Instagram @clay.banks]

This week, we're honoring a historically significant day that many Americans may still be unaware of, despite its annual occurrence for the past 155 years. June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, is nationally celebrated in the United States as an unofficial holiday marking the emancipation of enslaved people. The holiday originated on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger informed those who were enslaved in the area from the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston, Texas that they were free and that the Civil War had ended. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation over two years earlier, yet this was the first time that news had reached these people in remote parts of the south, causing jubilation and ecstasy at their newfound freedom. 

Since that date, Juneteenth has been celebrated throughout various states and cities with many designating it as an official holiday. This year, the day has become even more important and widely honored than in previous years. In the light of the recent merciless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black lives, many Americans are now recognizing and shedding more light on the oppression and violence of the Black community that has perpetuated even throughout the past 155+ years of abolished slavery.

One of the biggest disparities that has historically faced BIPOC communities and still remains a substantial problem today is the lack of mental health services, resources, and support. While these disparities have been well-documented for decades, very little has yet to be done to address and resolve them. In fact, in 2012, researchers at the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County set out to study the origins of these disparities and attempted to uncover previous studies on this issue. They found nothing. Another study examining the availability of mental health services to different communities found that 16% of white adults receive treatment for mental health concerns compared to only 8.6% of Black adults. 

What this information reveals to us is that we have a tremendous amount of work to do. Not just today, or this week, or this month, but permanently moving forward. 

At Bluebird, we recognize how imperative it is that we uphold our responsibility to do more. We’ve been dedicated to promoting positive mental health in our communities, yet we recognize that we haven’t done enough to make sure truly everyone has the access and ability to live the happy and healthy lifestyles we promote in our mission.

We’re committed to working on this in the long run, and here’s how we’re taking the first step forward. The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by providing free, nutritious meals and resources to Black Trans people. Bluebird Botanicals has pledged a donation to this organization alongside releasing a special edition Pride Month CBD Oil with which we will donate $1 from every sale to the Okra Project.

We also commit to continue using our platform to share mental health resources for the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. Our work will not stop with one donation or one fundraising initiative. We’re in this for the long haul, and we hope you’ll join us in the fight for justice. 

Learn More About Mental Health Disparities in BIPOC Communities:

  • Black & African American Communities And Mental Health
  • Guide to Racial Disparities in Education
  • The Historical Roots of Racial Disparities in the Mental Health System
  • 14 Organizations and People Working to Support BIPOC Mental Health During the Coronavirus Crisis