In honor of Black, Indigenous and People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month, Servicios de la Raza hosted its first holistic health festival with the hopes of encouraging alternative approaches to behavioral health.
The theme of the event was the five senses, and it explored a holistic approach to medicine. Many communities of color have cultural practices that date back centuries, many of which have been dismissed or erased. With so much stigma surrounding mental health, organizations like Servicos de la Raza are working to reclaim those practices to meet people where they’re at. Some of the alternatives included yoga, limpias, sound baths, and acudetox.
“We just feel like this field wasn’t created by and for people of color, it really left us out of the picture, so we just thought, it’s important to bring awareness, and really include in a lot of holistic and alternative ways of healing as well,” said Neva Martinez-Ortega, with Servicios. “What are ways that your grandma did stuff, what are the medicines, the herbs that maybe your grandma gave you when you were not feeling so great?”
According to data from the American Counseling Association, communities of color are less likely to have access to mental health services and are more likely to receive poor quality of care.
Colorado state Rep. Leslie Herod said we also have to eliminate the stigma.
“Everyone deserves access to good mental health support, good substance abuse support, and support that is relevant to you– who you are, where you are and your community,” Herod said.
Susie Casillas stopped by the festival after hearing the music from down the street. She said some of the practices are alternatives she’s like to explore more with her family.
“I think it’s great, to show them maybe what they’re missing out on,” Casillas said. “Take your kids to therapy, take them around, show them different things.”
Regularly Servicos de la Raza does offer mental health services to the community in both English and Spanish. The organization is raising funds to continue serving the community.