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National Program Discusses Importance of Black People and Mental Health & Wellness Amid COVID


The COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellness Program takes center stage with Black, Brown, and marginalized communities with a national program launch for RER Consulting Enterprise, LLC (RER)

Published on January 05, 2021

In October, RER was awarded a grant for the COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellness Program© to assist Miami-Dade County residents to navigate the myriad of mental health challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. This test market program provided a scorecard based on four key indicators of mental health and wellness after completing a brief, evidence-informed questionnaire. Participants were then given access to additional mental health and environmental supports to address the wide spectrum of mental health-related issues associated with the pandemic.

Program Founder and CEO of RER, Ruban Roberts, developed the program after questioning the disproportionalities in mental health care, medical care, and environmental factors magnified by the pandemic. “Because you can still find high and disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown folks dealing with diabetes, hypertension, and sickle cell; this creates an intolerable foundation for COVID-19 to fester. These issues are also related to social determinants and have always existed in these sectors,” Roberts continues, “How do we create a system where we can help people holistically? We need to fix the system instead of continuing to research the same issues yielding the same results. The goal should be to create solutions that will reverse these disparities.”

To administer to this broad need, RER partnered with New Horizons Community Mental Health Center, Barry University, and other Community Based Organizations to deliver this trusted program. This collaborative approach proved essential in addressing the holistic needs of participants. The program was free to Miami-Dade County residents and offered a wide range of direct and referral services.

Miami-Dade County served as a test market to launch the program nationally. It is the objective of Roberts to raise awareness of the correlation between Mental Health and pandemics, like COVID-19, and natural disasters and their effect on Black, Brown, and disadvantaged communities and provide them with access to services.

“Our Mental Health Program resonates with Black, Brown, and marginalized populations. From the program’s utilization of social media and direct communication to initiate contact through receiving referrals for services, participants feel heard, seen, and respected. This is a distinction that this program makes which is not usually the case for this population. This program addresses the whole person with a focus on emotional, social, and environmental needs. We base this practice on the concept that ‘You can’t treat a person that is hungry without feeding them first,'” said Roberts.

The program features:

  • A Mental Health & Wellness Assessment Scorecard© (MHWAS)
  • Access to the CMHWP Care Coordination Team for mental health services and referrals
  • All of our services are offered in English, Spanish, and Creole
  • Access to speaker seminar series featuring leading experts in mental health discussing topics that matter in your life

“When we started the program in October, we actually saw a correlation between high anxiety, depression, and stress levels that mirrored the November COVID-19 surge. We saw those levels rise from being low to moderate pre-surge, to moderate to high in direct correlation since the start of the holiday season” continued Roberts.

This program targets how we think about mental wellness and coping as a whole. “In Black, Brown, and marginalized communities stress, anxiety, and depression is normalized. In these communities, food and housing insecurities, underemployment and unemployment are not uncommon. This is further exacerbated by the pandemic.” RER seeks to expand this program nationally in an effort to provide holistic mental health services Black, Brown, and marginalized populations.