Zoom and Taraji P. Henson Raise $550,000 for BIPOC Mental Health
Social unrest, structural racism, and an ongoing global pandemic have affected millions of individuals. For BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, the consequences of repeated direct and indirect exposure to discrimination, health inequity, and trauma are profound – and have taken a substantial emotional and psychological toll on youths and adults. Studies such as those done at the University of Pennsylvania, provide strong evidence that systemic violence has a direct impact on increased depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues among BIPOC populations.
July was designated BIPOC Mental Health Month by Mental Health America (MHA), a nonprofit founded over 100 years ago, dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental health conditions. In recognition of this important campaign, we at Zoom are helping to advance understanding and elevate awareness of the mental health challenges experienced by BIPOC communities in the United States. We are proud of women of color like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, elite athletes who recently elevated a global conversation around, and boldly demonstrated to the world, what it looks like to prioritize their mental health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that:
- 16% of Black and African American people reported having a mental illness, and 22.4% of those reported a serious mental illness over the past year.
- Black Americans are more likely to experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than white adults.
- Suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts are on the rise in the Black community. The latest data shows 9.5% of Black Americans ages 18 to 25 have serious thoughts of suicide.
Compounding these mental health issues are the effects of COVID-19. In a study conducted by MHA:
- The number of people with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety increased throughout 2020 and remains higher than rates prior to COVID-19.
- More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm than have ever been recorded by the MHA.
- Young people are struggling most with their mental health. The proportion of youths ages 11 to 17 who accessed screening was 9% higher than the average in 2019.
- While rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are increasing for people of all races and ethnicities, Black or African American screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for anxiety and depression.
- Native American or American Indians have had the highest average percent change over time for suicidal ideation.
Supporting BIPOC mental health
As part of Zoom’s continued efforts to support and care for local and global communities in need, we are focused on helping those experiencing the negative psychological impact of racial or social injustice, in addition to the pandemic.
Last month Zoom partnered with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF) to host a live awareness-raising and fundraising event, “A Write to Education!: My Mental Health Matters.” BLHF, a Black mental health advocacy group in the U.S., is a pioneer in providing access to localized black culturally competent therapy resources sourced through a national network of clinicians, service providers, counselors, and thought leaders.
Taraji P. Henson appears during the “A Write to Education!: My Mental Health Matters” fundraising event.
Additionally, BLHF advances a pipeline of culturally competent services into the Black community by raising awareness of stigmatizing language, offering scholarships to Black students seeking a career in the mental health field, and extending mental health services to young people in underserved schools and communities.
Our shared event featured discussions with award-winning actress and BLHF founder Taraji P. Henson, and mental health expert Dr. Spirit. Artists and social change influencers Yara Shahidi, Common, Jill Scott, and Mumu Fresh shared their past and current encounters as young people experiencing stigma and mental health challenges within the education system.
With Zoom’s $250,000 matching grant, BLHF’s fundraising strategy, and Pledge’s live donation PledgeCam, the virtual event raised over $550,000. These funds will further support the development of BLHF’s “The Unspoken Curriculum” campaign; after-school hangouts for students; curriculum and dialogue engagement for teachers and parents led by culturally competent mental health providers; and free individual therapy sessions for middle and high school-aged students as well as first- and second-year students at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).
Advocating for mental health progress
Zoom Cares, Zoom’s philanthropic arm, is focused on how to best make a meaningful and lasting difference in the world. We recognize our responsibility as a global company to move resources and make a positive impact where it is most needed. According to the World Health Organization, there is currently a tremendous need for funds to support mental health. Charitable giving in this area is critically low — around 2% of global health funding and currently just 0.5% of all philanthropic health-giving.
To help bolster the resiliency and drive we see every day in young people and communities of color, Zoom will continue to advocate for mental health progress. We recently developed a seven-person global advisory council of educators, mental health clinicians, and nonprofit professionals to steer our future funding decisions.
To date, Zoom has supported mental health efforts with partners such as place2be and the American Heart Association. We look forward to announcing additional partnerships at our annual user conference, Zoomtopia, in September.
Resources available for mental health support
Zoom Cares and the Boris L. Henson Foundation are committed to providing access to the mental health care our youths and young adults need. During this arduous time, young people who do not have access to mental health support may benefit from professional guidance in a safe, supportive, peer space.
Here are some resources for mental health support:
- The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
- Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM)
- Therapy for Black Girls
- The Loveland Foundation
- Therapy for Black Men
Further, we acknowledge that affording the cost of mental health services can be a barrier in the Black community. The BLHF team invites you to engage in three ways:
- Partner – They would like to partner with urban schools, school districts, and HBCUs looking to enhance mental health support for their students. Contact the Mental Wellness Support Program at MWSP@borislhensonfoundation.org.
- Join – Join their Let’s Talk! Resource Guide of culturally competent clinicians offering services to local schools.
- Support – Every dollar counts! Consider a donation to support BLHF’s mission and continue relevant BIPOC programming and services by texting UNSPOKEN to 707070.