Blog /Wellness begins with “We”: Social Inclusion in Alameda County
Social Inclusion means that we all matter – every person has value, and each of our contributions are important to the wellbeing of the community. Those of us in recovery from mental health or substance use, can inspire others to move beyond misperceptions and the nuances of exclusion when we speak the truth of our recovery experience. We are led by our vision of a welcoming community in which we are all equal and free to live, love, learn, lead, work, pray, and play.
The goal of the Alameda County Social Inclusion Campaign, led by PEERS, is to create these welcoming communities throughout our county. Our work is eliminating mental health stigma and discrimination. As a consumer-run nonprofit, most campaign staff and volunteers are people who have discovered our value and gifts in spite of our mental health challenges. The authenticity of our lived experience of mental health recovery is expressed through three core modalities in our campaign to change hearts and minds toward inclusion and social justice: Empowerment, Spirituality, and Outreach & Education.
Our Empowerment events, such as Empowerment through the Arts, Mindful Movement, and Sisters Circle introduce innovative wellness practices to people who want to heal, find their voice, and give back. Focusing on personal wellness and peer relationships, we open our doors to interested community members for an array of open events that promote self-awareness, build confidence, and foster connection.
Spirituality and spiritual practices are often a key component of wellness plans. Through the Spirituality link of our campaign, we provide a safe space for consumers, family members, providers, and representatives of faith communities to dialogue and learn together how to open minds, expand hearts, and increase access to culturally responsive mental health and wellness services each month.
The Spirituality work has been a key to engaging mental health awareness in the African-American community. Though our work with the African-American Action Team and the Mental Health Friendly Churches project, we are reaching out and teaching about mental health recovery and resources to empower communities to access care and support.
Our Housing Action Team unites representatives of 11 Alameda County housing programs to collaborate with mental health advocates on projects, raise mental health awareness in housing programs, and educate consumers of their rights to affordable housing. By developing a class to promote skills and resources for shared housing, we will offer WRAP for Housing as support. Our speakers bureau Lift Every Voice and Speak regularly delivers mental health recovery presentations at housing sites to educate residents and staff.
When one of the Outreach Peer Educators from Lift Every Voice & Speak courageously shares her personal story of overcoming stigma and challenges to live a life of service and connection and giving back to their community, we connect with our audience through our shared humanity. When a person with a mental health label claims his wholeness, value, gifts and commitment to creating welcoming spaces for others, everyone who listens is inspired to let go of common misperceptions and see the person behind the label.
In the Fruitvale District, we are working with volunteers, community members, veterans and immigrants to design and build a Peace and Wellness Garden on the grounds of the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park (PHHP). The garden features a paved storytelling circle with a flagstone bench-in-the-round. It will be inscribed with hope-filled messages of healing from trauma, finding and sharing our voices, and connecting with community. We broke ground on the Peace and Wellness Garden on February 12th. We are hosting a Community Storytelling event at the PHHP site on April 20th. The opening of the Peace and Wellness Garden in May will be a festive celebration of the resilience of the human spirit and our shared commitment to creating peace and wellness for ourselves and our larger community.
Stay up to date on the many monthly activities of the campaign by visiting the calendar at www.peersnet.org/calendar. Or subscribe to our monthly updates by e-mailing your request to Christal Byrd at firstname.lastname@example.org.