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Minorities often do not seek mental health services; perpetuates cycles of violence in neighborhoods

Posted at 6:00 AM, Aug 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-02 10:17:46-04

Michelle Brown, 17, of Buffalo was on her way to her sister’s house for a BBQ on May 5, 2018.

“Out of nowhere, we heard this popping noise. But we wouldn't think it was gunshots.”

It was bullets. They came through the window of car carrying two young women, a 4 year old and 3-month-old baby.

“Out of nowhere my window had bust. Then I felt a burning in my arm that's when I knew I had to got hit.”

Brown is still recovering from the bullet that fractured her arm. She’s recovering both physically and mentally.

“When I’m in the car I always check the mirrors I always look to see who’s coming. Even riding past where it happened, I always think about it, I just can’t get past it. It’s always in my mind.”

The shooting happened just days before her senior prom. It took her out of the classroom, and away from her friends during the final days of her senior year at McKinley High.

The violence in her neighborhood isn’t unique. But getting counseling to move past it, as Brown has done the past 3 months, is.

“A lot of that is the embarrassment of it,” says Cambria Daniels. She’s the Program Director of Building Brighter Futures at East High School.

“It’s literally ingrained in the culture that, ‘No, we do not talk about our personal issues’. especially when you say: counselor, therapist, clinician, psychologist, etc.”

Seeking mental health counseling in minority communities is a concept that faces great barriers, according to mental health professionals at BestSelf in Buffalo.

With all of the violence plaguing communities of color - often the incidents get addressed, but there is a whole community of people that are residually affected, yet, aren't as easy to see.

‘We’re seeing it as young as third grade. There’s this aggression,” said Daniels.

Kids. They often see these violent events play out in their neighborhoods, but rarely get help to process what they’ve seen.

Daniels says kids seeing this violence often show their post-traumatic stress affects in the classrooms.

“The flipping of the desk, the throwing and the tantrum… that is more than just for attention, that’s obviously that you can’t articulate how you’re feeling.”

Kids sometimes end up suspended, or in the juvenile justice system because their trauma was never addressed.

“They were never given the skills, they were never given the counseling, they were never given anything to her them cope with that trauma, ” said Daniels.

BestSelf often holds clinics throughout the city and suburbs. For more information on resources for counseling in your neighborhood, click here.

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