The African American Steering Committee for Health and Wellness (AASCHW) is comprised of community stakeholders and subject matter experts from the Black community in Alameda County. It is a broad based coalition with African American members representing consumers, families, providers, clergy, system partners, and other community stakeholders.
“Ensure that new programs and infrastructure are developed with input from African American subject matter experts.” Recommendation from ACBHCS, African American Utilization Report, 2011
African Americans/Blacks in Alameda County Behavioral Health (ACBH) have the worst documented behavioral health outcomes. African
• 10% of the county's population
• 38% of ACBH peer/consumer/client population
• A large number of individuals that receive treatment in, involuntary settings, such as hospitals and jails.
“African American males and females have the highest rates of hospitalization for severe mental illness, at 608.1 per 100,000 population and 515.3 per 100,000 population, respectively. African American males and females have between seven and eight times higher severe mental illness hospitalization rates than Asian/Pacific Islander males and females (the groups with the lowest rates), and between 1.4 and two times higher rates than White males and females (the groups with the next highest rates after African Americans).” Statement from, Alameda County Health Data Profile, 2014
Given the grave disparities of behavior health outcomes for African Americans in ACBH delivery system; more funding needs to be directed to African American service providers that deliver culturally congruent services and treatment to this population. Black people continue to receive Western behavioral health care services and treatment and the outcomes for this population continues to be poor and even physically harmful to some of them.
“African Americans are disproportionately misdiagnosed, resulting in incorrect treatment. African Americans, at twice the rate of whites, are prescribed the older generations of antidepressants or antipsychotic medications and as a result suffer irreversible disability caused by long-term use of antipsychotic medications." Statement from ACBHCS, African American Utilization Report, 2011
Due to the recommendations in the African American Utilization Report, 2011; BHCS Round 2 Innovation Grantees and other pressures from the Black community, led BHCS staff and selected consultants in the winter of 2015, to complete a comprehensive recruitment and selection process for members to serve on the African American Steering Committee.
“We value collaborative partnerships with consumers, families, service providers, agencies and communities, where every door is the right door for welcoming people with complex needs and assisting them toward wellness, recovery and resiliency.” This is one of the Values of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services.
The Steering Committee meets monthly and has an operating structure with an Executive Committee that includes a chair, co-chair and secretary; the Director of ACBH and the Ethnic Services Manager, provides a report out to the committee. The committee has sub-committees such as, but not limited to a membership committee; legislative committee; policy committee and ad-hoc committees are convened as needed. The group is committed to its mission, vision, and values statements.
The African American Steering Committee for Health and Wellness is dedicated to ensuring Alameda County’s Behavioral Health Care system provides quality, culturally responsive and integrated care that is delivered in an honoring and respectful manner to African American consumers, family members and the community-at-large.
The vision of the African American Steering Committee for Health and Wellness is to have a Behavioral Health Care System where African Americans are equal partners with Behavioral Health Care Services and are always included in the decision-making process that creates, designs, develops, and implements policies, procedures and services for the African American community.
We acknowledge and honor the fundamental rights of African Americans to receive Behavioral Health Care Services in an environment that respects their cultural and ethnic traditions, heritages and experiences.
It is the charge and mission of the African American Steering Committee for Health and Wellness to adhere to the following recommendations and statements in order to reduce disparities and inequities in ACBH system of care for African Americans in Alameda County.
Methods: Our mission shall be achieved through guidance, policy development and implementation, advocacy, education, assessment, and evaluation of Alameda County’s Behavioral Health needs for African Americans.
"The Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (BHCS) African American Steering Committee
process is a critical next step for both BHCS and the African American community. The Steering Committee is being convened to provide guidance and recommendations to BHCS staff in the utilization of mental health services, in the provision of creating culturally responsive services and funding for the African American Community." Statement from notes from BABUF web page
"In embracing the Strategic Vision adopted by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 2008 (see page 6), BHCS recognized that we needed to scrutinize our service delivery system and determine ways of improving outcomes for African American consumers, their families and the County’s African American community at large." Statement from ACBHCS, African American Utilization Report, 2011
"Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) provided funding and opportunities to begin addressing these disparities in ways that in the past would have otherwise been difficult. In the six years since its passage, BHCS has listened to consumers, their families and community stakeholders who deserve a voice in determining their path to recovery and the services needed to support them on that path. Toward that end, we embarked on a collaborative effort with consumers, families and other members of the African American community to examine the disparities in behavioral health services and ways that we could improve services to address these issues." Statement from ACBHCS, African American Utilization Report, 2011