United Way of Connecticut helping to provide access to mental health resources

Black Men and Resilience, Discussions of Joy and Pain offer peer support and positive coping skills to those experiencing trauma and untreated stress.

Bridgeport, Connecticut – The United Way of Connecticut has various resources and partnerships to help those with mental health issues.

In Bridgeport, the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County addressed trauma and mental health disparities in communities of color.

Reverend Nancy Kingwood is the president and CEO of the Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program (GBAPP.) She said the pandemic has exposed a harsh reality.

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“The disparities in the gaps in services are huge,” said Reverend Kingwood. “It hurts, trying to deal with a complex healthcare system.”

This is why GBAPP expanded its programs and started “Black Men and Flexibility, Joy and Pain Discussions.”

Offers peer support and positive coping skills to black men experiencing untreated trauma and stress. The program began as a virtual discussion at the height of the pandemic.

“A lot of people signed in,” Kingwood recounted. “A lot of people got involved, and a lot of traumatic experiences began to unfold, even in that first conversation.”

It has since grown into a biweekly meeting funded by an innovation grant from the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.

This is huge, Kingwood said, because unaddressed historical trauma often leads to poor health outcomes and early death.

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Program participant Loni Spaulding agreed.

“Some of the things that happen in our community are related to the traumatic events that have happened to people,” Spaulding said.

The program, he added, better allows black men to have a safe space to grow from past traumas.

“We are able to take it head on and deal with it,” Spaulding said. “It then allows us to open up to what is going on around us and that we are no longer a problem; instead, we become a solution.”

Kingwood emphasized that the United Way helped move “black men and resilience, discussions of joy and pain” forward as it recognizes the importance of justice and equality as an organization.

“They recognize that the black and brown communities need additional services and need help,” Kingwood explained. “They understand the trauma, and they understand. The black and brown trauma is unique and very different. Based on our historical events.”

The United Way of Connecticut also has a free, confidential information and referral service, 2-1-1.

2-1-1 is a one-stop shop for those in Connecticut seeking emotional support, resources, referrals, substance abuse or crisis assistance, and available to people 24/7.

RELATED: The United Way of Greater New Haven receives a shipment of PPE to serve the homeless

Raquel Harrington is the Race and Culture Correspondent for FOX61 News. It can be accessed at rharrington@fox61.com. follow her Facebook social networking siteAnd Twitter And Instagram.

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