Between the Covid-19 Pandemic and the current level of social and political divisiveness and unrest in this country, we are all feeling a heightened level of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, anger, pain and loss.  No doubt some are experiencing more hardships and fear than others, but today’s perfect storm is touching and affecting all of us. To survive this unprecedented moment in history, we need the proper tools, we need strength, leadership and courage and we need a little bit of luck.  We need to acknowledge certain truths and facts, and not pretend we don’t have a problem when there is one (or several) staring us in the face.  We need to use our voice when we have one.  We need to learn from the mistakes we have made in the past and work together as we move forward. We cannot forget, we need to make changes and ultimately we need each other. As Kareen Abdul-Jabbar said in a brilliant op-ed piece this past weekend in the LA Times, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

At SCH our mission is to help people break free from self destructive behaviors and the underlying trauma that is almost always at the root of these behaviors.   Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, and is broadly defined as some form of pain or loss. Living in a society that consistently discriminates against someone simply because of the color of their skin or because of their sexual orientation or because they just don’t fit in with whatever might be considered “normal” can be and often is deeply traumatic. We send our deepest condolences, prayers and message of “we hear you” to those most directly affected by George Floyd’s murder.  Some form of discrimination has deeply wounded many of our patients, and while we may not be able to fully understand the depth of the fear and anger being felt by the black community in this country, on another level we “get it” better than many. 

The following is a letter from our CEO and Medical Director Dr, Kim Dennis to our team. 

Dear Team,

We have seen a week of sustained mobilization of energy and action in world wide protests to police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic murder. Many of you have reached out to me in that time expressing concern, fear, heart ache and outrage. 

Persons of color are discriminated against across all of the domains that we hold onto our society as markers of security–economic opportunity, education, housing, access to good health care including mental health care, and fair treatment in the justice system.  ‎White privilege continues to this day to set us and our children up to succeed in this system. 

At SunCloud, one of our core values is inclusiveness. Seeing and hearing the human-ness in every patient we treat and every employee we hire. 

As we move into action rooted in that value, we will launch an Inclusivity Action Committee. Hannah Carra has volunteered to chair the committee. We will also be making a donation to Black Lives Matter, and hope to partner with them to organize events both specific to mental health and more broadly. Part of the committee’s work will be increasing outreach to person’s of color in our recruiting activities. 

I encourage each of you to use your voice, and take some small action to be part of the solution that our broken system and the broken‎ heart and soul of our communities. Sign a petition, write to local and state politicians and law makers. If you join a march or a protest, please wear a face covering and honor social distancing guidelines. Speak out when you see/hear/witness microagressions in our SunCloud community. Violence begets violence, until love interrupts it.

Small acts of kindess and grace to those deeply affected by discrimination is a good start. 

Please expect to see more information about the IAC in the coming weeks and how to participate. ‎I’ve also attached, a heartfelt and inspirational piece David wrote earlier this week for the SunCloud email list.

Warmly, Dr. Kim and David

The following blog was written by Dr. Kim prior to the senseless, tragic and racist killing of George Floyd. The writing, “We Were Made to Survive This”, seems even more apropos today than ever.  It sheds light on the collateral damage we are already seeing with Covid-19 while at the same time highlighting the virtues of recovery and the fact that those of us in recovery are uniquely equipped to deal with adversity because of what we have overcome.  

We Were Made to Survive This, By Kim Dennis, MD

In the 1930s, America experienced a devastating depression. People died in the hundreds of thousands every year. And yet, death-toll statistics from that era proved inaccurate, simply due to the unreported collateral damage. People were starving from lack of food. This rendered them medically vulnerable. Many died from such benign causes as the common cold.

Our country is in a similar situation today. COVID-19 has already caused nearly 100,000 deaths and that number will escalate. But what will never be accounted for are “deaths of despair.”  READ MORE HERE