Roots of South Los Angeles Wellness Center Newsletter
June 2018
Decolonizing Mental Health as Healing
Hanslodge Cliparts ©2018

“Decolonization of the mental health system encourages ways of healing that honor the wounds of colonization, unique cultural experience, traditional healing, and ways of perceiving distress in complex ways outside of simplistic labeling.” -Keyes, J.

It is no surprise that the Mental Health System has a history of oppressing People of Color along with other marginalized groups, such as women and the LGBTQ community. Yet it is the Western Psychology framework that continues to be the standard for modern day research, treatment and interventions for such groups. This framework continues to limit, reduce and even create obstacles to healing for communities of color.

The mental health system overall does not take into consideration the specific conditions POC are exposed too every day. According to Dom Chatterjee from Rest for Resistance, mental health is different for POC in 3 ways:

1) There is no end to our trauma

2) POC healing practices and spirituality are often culturally appropriated, meaning that they can be harmful to us as they are helpful

3) The cultural contexts of mental health experiences have been stripped away by colonialism

Which bring us back to decolonization of mental health as a form of healing for our communities. According to Jon Keyes “We continue to perpetrate some of the worst facets of colonization by funneling people into a system of medicine that is outside of traditional healing practices for many indigenous people.”

So how do we begin to heal and decolonize our mental health systems? Here are a few suggestions to start:

1)     Advocate for Unrestricted Funding

·       One of the greatest obstacles in accessing traditional healing practices in mental health (and health overall) are the restrictions on insurance coverage. Most insurance will only cover “evidence-based”, Western approaches to mental health. Advocating at the city, county and state level can increase awareness of the effectiveness of holistic, culturally traditional practices has on mental health.


2)     Do not appropriate or support appropriation of traditional healing practices

·       Being respectful and honoring traditional healing practices is vital to the mental health of POC communities. This also means being respectful and supporting of POC only spaces.


3)     Social Justice

·       Police brutality, drug wars, school-to-prison pipelines (just to name a very few) are all systems of oppression that are used to marginalize and further traumatize POC, leaving a trail of mental/emotional/spiritual damaged communities. Social Justice & reform is necessary for our communities to heal & thrive.       

Our communities are resilient, strong and have always found a way to incorporate their healing medicine into day-to-day struggles. It is time our healing practices are respected, valued and given the same opportunities the Western treatments are given. It is time to take up space. To quote Shirley Chrisholm, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”   

Sources cited:

Chatterjee, D., "Mental Health is Different for People of Color in 3 Ways"; Rest for Resistance, 2017. 

Keyes, J. "Decolonizing the Mental Health System."

Upcoming Events

Womxn of Color Healing Circle

Saturday, 6/30/2018
A process of healing emotional wounds through sisterhood and holistic approaches to overall wellness. (Discussion will be held in Spanish and English) 
The circle is held on the last Saturday of every month from 9:30am - 11am at Casa Solidaria del Sur/Solidarity House of the South 4163 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90011
Suggested donation $3-5
(No one will be turned away for lack of funds. More info on our FB & IG pages)


Since we are still at the beginning stages of obtaining our 501c3, we rely on donations to help with facilitating our healing circles & workshops. No amount is too small. Please visit our GoFundMe page for more details:
Copyright © 2018; Roots of South Los Angeles Wellness Center, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO BOX 1129
Alhambra, CA 91802

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Roots of South LA Wellness Center · PO BOX 1129 · Alhambra, CA 91802 · USA

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