Promoting Wellness in the African American Community


In a historic move, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (has funded the design phase of an African American Wellness Hub in Alameda County.


The organization’s steering committee is working to maximize recovery, resilience and wellness for African Americans who are experiencing mental health or substance use challenges.


“This investment will be some of the best spent money toward our effort in reducing mental health disparities and improving outcomes for the African American community,” said of Gigi Crowder, the organization’s Ethnic Services Manager.


“This is a new, trendsetting approach to providing supports and services that are culturally fine-tuned,” she said.


Wade Nobles, Ph.D., founding executive director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture, is the consultant for the project-planning phase, which will explore what the Wellness Hub would look like.


“This is not taking place anywhere in the country,” Dr. Nobles said “It is a special and radical shift where a county agency is going to have the voices of our community heard.”


A systematic response to those needs will be crafted.


“We want to preserve, understand and actualize the core best practices for African American people,” said Nobles. “There is a science of Black psychology that has been developed for 35 years, and we want to blend this with our understanding of African American culture and the healing practices to restore wellness to our community.”


The funding will be provided by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), based on a 1 percent tax on California residents with a personal income above $1 million.


The MHSA dollars are for a two-year project for the design phase of the African American Wellness Hub. The committee has recommended that hub be designed with spokes or satellite offices to meet the health needs of African Americans across the county.


The hub’s services would be offered in welcoming and nurturing environments. Staff would be hired who understand the cultural nuances and values embraced by African Americans.


More than 2 million adults – about 8 percent of the population – are affected by potentially disabling mental illnesses each year in California.


Due to the Mental Health Services Act, Alameda County programs have received funding to provide care and supports. Voters approved Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, in 2004, and in 2005, it went into effect.


The African American Health and Wellness Steering Committee was established in February 2015 following up on the 2011 African American Utilization Study Report (


This report offered goals and recommendations to better address and respond to the African American community’s behavioral health needs.


At its annual Black History Month event Friday, Feb. 26, the African American Steering Committee will present Black Minds Matter 2! from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Oakland Youth Center, 3233 Market St. in Oakland.


The morning is open to the public. Starting at noon, people are invited for lunch, and community input sessions will be held for African American community members to offer their insights about what is needed for the African American Wellness Hub.


For information, contact Gigi Crowder at (510) 777-2118 or [email protected]


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