Our team is constantly talking about accessibility. Accessibility means a lot of different things when we are considering the work we do and the populations we serve at Cypress. Here are some things on our minds recently as we continue to advocate for the support everyone deserves:
Accessibility to needed services is critical to anyone experiencing a mental health challenge and yet, we know there are often long waits for a therapist or there can be a lack of providers who speak our language or understand our culture. States across the nation are working to invest in the mental and behavioral health workforce to ensure we all can find a professional to support us and our loved ones. But we know that will take time. While that is happening – we ALL need to know how to support one another!
Accessibility of mental health resources includes making sure there are resources out there for folks whose primary language may not be English. Our Cypress trainer, Karina De Leon M., has been certifying mono-lingual Spanish speakers in Mental Health First Aid this year and we have come across all sorts of barriers! We are advocating at the national level for translation of materials and full access to online services. But we also struggled to find crisis services that offer support in Spanish. We NEED more multi-lingual resources for people.
Accessibility means making sure folks with different abilities can equitably access information, trainings and services. Recently our team provided Mental Health First Aid certification classes for individuals with visually impairment and blindness. We realized SO many of our materials needed to be revised to guarantee that the experience of MHFA was fully available to everyone in the class. We need more resources at the national level to support organizations like ours who are trying to work with people living with disabilities.
Accessibility means creating a safe space where people feel seen, included and welcome. We talk about heavy stuff at Cypress – mental health, grief, trauma. Using language that is inclusive, ensuring that we introduce ourselves with our pronouns, making sure we are welcome to diversity in all of its forms is critical to the work we do. We all need to feel as though we can safely show up as we truly are – so we can have the conversations we need to have about how to support ourselves and those we care about.
Accessibility means a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Cypress works to ensure everyone feels welcome, heard and celebrated in our spaces. As we celebrate Pride and Juneteenth this month, we are reminded about the importance of equity and inclusion for all so folks can feel safe when accessing the services they may need.
Accessibility means SO MUCH MORE! We are still learning every day at Cypress. Training so many people who come from all walks of life keeps us on our toes and keeps us talking about accessibility!
What does accessibility mean to you?