Week 7 discussion 1: health initiatives

 Due: In an effort to facilitate scholarly discourse, create your initial post by Thursday, and reply to at least two of your classmates, on two separate days, by Saturday


Initial Post

Watch the video clip below:


Video Transcript


Overcoming barriers to mental health care and stigma in communities of color

On-camera announcer: Boston 25 News is launching a new edition called Boston 25 Gets Real. In this series, we’re digging into issues impacting members of our community. And introducing you to the people who are working to create change.

Boston 25 Gets Real About Mental Health. This reporter, Crystal Haynes, reveals the impact of the mental health crisis on communities of color.

Crystal Haynes: From socioeconomic barriers to racial bias in healthcare and wellness fields, to stigma. Access to mental health in communities of color is a critical issue. We started working on this before the pandemic and we began with the issue of stigma. And the story behind the Roxbury non-profit, DeeDee’s Cry.

Toy Burton (on camera): I went into the bathroom and just took everything under the bathroom sink, Comet, bleach, whatever; just mixed it all and drank it. And then, after a while I was like, “Wait a minute.” I’m like, “I don’t, I don’t wanna do this.”

Crystal Haynes (VoiceOver): Where Toy Burton failed, her 23-year-old sister, DeeDee, unfortunately succeeded years prior. DeeDee’s suicide changed Toy’s life forever.

On-screen caption: TOY BURTON Founder of DeeDee’s Cry

Toy Burton: I was in total denial. ‘Cause I was like, “No, like, she was better, she was happy; she had just moved; you know, she had a two-year-old son.” So it hit me pretty hard because she was my big sister. And she was the person who made ME feel special, you know, made ME feel spot. And I wanted to be like her.

Crystal Haynes (VO): Toy says DeeDee’s death sent her into a depression. Nineteen at the time, she says she started drinking and then moved to drugs. She got clean in 1986, but says it didn’t make the pain she felt go away.

Toy Burton: And so they fixed my physical but they didn’t do nothing for my mental. So I went home with the same thoughts and the same me and the same hurt. And eventually, like, within the years, I just started to cut myself.

Dr. Christine Crawford, Psychiatrist (on camera): Because there’s so much stigma around mental illness, there’s a tremendous amount of barriers for folks to access mental health services. And insurance not viewing mental health conditions on par with medical conditions.

Crystal Haynes (VO): According to Mental Health America, in 2018, more than 58 percent of African American adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. Nearly 90% of Black and African-American people over the age of 12 with substance abuse disorder did not receive treatment.

Dr. Christine Crawford is a psychiatrist at Boston Medical Center. She tells me mistrust of doctors and long-held stereotypes in the Black community are serious barriers to treatment.

Dr. Crawford: Seeking out mental health treatment is something for the worried well. That is a luxury to be able to meet with someone once a week to talk about the emotional struggles that you’re going through.

Crystal Haynes (VO): Dr. Crawford says lack of representation in the mental health field also plays a role. Only 4% of therapists in the U.S. are African-American.

Dr. Crawford: When I told my family that I was going to pursue a career in psychiatry, my mother said to me, “Oh, well, I thought you were going to be a real doctor.” And so I made it my mission to go out into the community and de-stigmatize mental illness, to de-stigmatize my profession as a whole, so we can get more people into care.

Crystal Haynes (VO): Toy has dedicated her life to fighting against the stigma in her community.

Toy Burton: I was looking for resources. Resources about mental health and suicide prevention, and what I noticed is that they really didn’t do things in the Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan area to me, communities of color.

Crystal Haynes (VO): Her non-profit, DeeDee’s Cry creates spaces where people can share their stories.

Toy Burton: And someone had asked the question, like, “How did you get 150 people to register for a mental health event?” And I was like, “Because this is where the pain is at.”

Crystal Haynes (on camera): The mind-body connection is also crucial to this conversation. Nearly half of all African-Americans have high blood pressure and high cholesterol and obesity. But few registered dieticians are people of color. Yet another barrier to access. I’m Crystal Haynes, Boston 25 News.


  • Briefly describe the availability of and access to mental health care in your community and geographical area.
  • How has the Covid-19 Pandemic revealed equity issues in certain communities?
  • What do you see as the greatest barrier to access and how do you feel this would be best addressed? Be specific in regard to addressing this issue in your “community” or geographical area. Do you believe that private or public entities are best suited to address this? How do other countries address these issues?


Reply to at least two of your classmates. Your reply posts should build on the original post and demonstrate substantive reflection.

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