What seemed like the darkest of times just a week or two ago, suddenly seem brighter. There is hope and promise in the way that communities all over the world are coming together peacefully but with determination in opposition to sanctioned violence and racism against Black people. The urgency and force of the protests across the globe represent what may be the greatest collective rally for change in our generations’ memory.
We, at Columbus Park, here in the heart of New York City, are both humbled and proud as we join individuals in our community and beyond to take action in an abundance of meaningful ways… whether by protesting, self-educating, donating, self-reflecting or speaking out.
Race and privilege have been topics of conversation for some time within the eating disorder community… but notwith the level of gravity and indignation that are deserved. As we know, eating disorders impact individuals of all races, colors, backgrounds and identities, yet the stereotypical image of the rich white “too thin” female endures. It is said that mental health “does not discriminate” but it absolutely does. There are well-documented gender, socio-economic and racial/ethnic disparities in treatment access. The majority of eating disorder research subjects are white, as are the researchers, scientists and professionals orchestrating these studies. Medical and mental health providers are less likely to screen Black patients for eating disorders. Food insecurity, chronic stress and trauma which affect Black and Brown people disproportionately, and are strongly correlated with the development of eating disorders.
Racial discrimination is pervasive in our healthcare system as well as in the society at large so as a result, the majority of Black and Brown people with diagnosable mental health conditions – including eating disorders – will never in fact be diagnosed.
White female providers dominate the clinical mental health setting and the team at Columbus Park represents this reality fully. We are a group of white, able-bodied, straight-sized, employed cisgender females. We humbly represent a very privileged group in our society and therefore, must work harder to be more informed, connected and even louder when it comes to the unacceptable oppression and injustices impacting so many in our communities. Mental health is inextricably entwined with one’s lived experience, and when one’s lived experience is filled with microaggressions, deliberate aggressions, terror, inequality, and pervasive grief, we need to pay attention. As mental health providers, we are fundamentally and wholly obligated to respond to the trauma Black and Brown individuals… and we will.
Columbus Park stands both in solidarity with and in support of Black and Brown individuals in our direct community and well beyond. And during this critical time and going forward, we will work to be more sensitive, more skilled, more accessible, and more active in the fight to achieve equity, justice and respect for all people regardless of race or color. Black lives matter.