In early March 2021, Germantown residents participated in a community conversation on the state of gun violence in Philadelphia with Kimberly Kamara of Never Ending E-Motions (NEEM), an online support group learning to deal with the pain of a departed loved one, and Anton Moore of Unity in the Community, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the lives of others in the South Philly area.
Below is a list of resources provided by neighbors and community partners. For more on this ongoing discussion, including the Info Hub Radio Hour’s series on solutions from the community and previous discussions, please visit the Info Hub’s archives.
Alternatives to 911
The City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services(DBHIDS) offers mental wellness resources including a 24-Hour Mental Health Delegate Line, services for adults and children, and options for those with or without insurance. Access DBHIDS’ resource guide here or scan the above QR code using your phone.
Mental health and grounding resources
Iris Bowen, a licensed social worker, provided clinical support during the session. She underscored the importance of human connection within human services in order to best serve the needs of a given community, including the various ways that mental health, race, housing insecurity intersect.
Bowen believes that use of self is critical to her clinical practice and leverages her lived experience as a bisexual black woman, commitment to abolition of all carceral systems, and belief in transformative justice to inform her practice. She provided grounding exercises (including mindfulness and meditation) and mental health resources (including racially and gender diverse-led centers and those specific to the Black community). Bowen can be reached by email at email@example.com or via linkedin.
GROUNDING & MINDFULNESS
Grounding Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#soothing-techniques
All grounding techniques act as a buffer between you and the pain/stress/anxiety of your present situation. They can help create space between you and the negative emotions you may be experiencing in a given moment. I have found it helpful to think of grounding techniques as having three main categories: Mental, physical, and verbal (usually the 3rd category is officially referred to as “soothing” but I personally find that a bit misleading, since all of the techniques should soothe). My suggestion is to try out a technique from each of the three different categories to find which type works best for you. The link above provides a comprehensive–though not totally exhaustive–list of grounding techniques.
- Mental grounding includes visualization and imagination. An example would be thinking of a time or place in which you felt safe, and trying to access those feelings to reduce stress, anxiety, or agitation. One thing that I suggest to folks is in moments of joy, take a moment to take in your surroundings and examine your feelings. I have found that real past experiences generally work best, though some people may also find solace in imagining a future event.
- Physical grounding includes activities such as focusing on your breathing, or touching an object near you while focusing on its specific tactile qualities (textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature, etc.)
- Verbal grounding includes affirmations such as, “I am a smart person”; coping statements such as, “I can handle this, this feeling will pass”; or describing things around you out loud. A very popular ground technique that falls under this category is naming 5 things you can see, 5 things you can touch, 5 things you can smell, & 5 things you can hear.
HEALING & CONNECTION
- Free therapy/coaching/healing practices for Black folks: https://www.sanasanahealing.com/free
- **If anyone is interested in providing services they can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, those providing services do not have to identify as black
- Anti Violence Partnership of Philadelphia offers free counseling and victim services: https://avpphila.org/
- Website where survivors of gun violence can share their stories and connect with other survivors:
- Racially and gender diverse-led therapy center (insurance or out of pocket): http://www.therapycenterofphila.org/
- Phone apps for meditation and mindfulness:
- Headspace ————- [ Android | Apple ]
- Calm ——————– [ Android | Apple ]
- MyLife Meditation (formerly Stop, Breath, and Think) [ Android | Apple ] *
- * Has a version for kids ages 5-10
- American Psychological Association (APA) review of the above mentioned apps: https://www.apaservices.org/practice/business/technology/tech-column/apps-tools-psychologists
KNOWLEDGE & PREVENTION
- A guide created to assist those in a mental health crisis, and for their friends and family. I would say it’s not reasonable to expect someone who is having an active mental health crisis to consult this guide, so in my opinion it can be used to familiarize oneself with symptoms, behaviors, de-escalation techniques, and treatment options for mental health emergencies. It’s a pretty comprehensive overview of various options for folks. (https://namiphilly.org/documents/Navigating-A-Mental-Health-Crisis.pdf)
- Obtained from the NAMI Philly website here (https://namiphilly.org/get-help-now.html), this link also includes resources specific to Philly such as the CRCs, Mental Health Delegate Line (for involuntary commitments or the mobile emergency team).
- NAMI also offers support groups for individuals living with mental health conditions and/or their family members (schedule is here: https://namiphilly.org/nami-virtual-support-groups.html)
- Offers free training on Mental Health First Aid for communities: https://healthymindsphilly.org/mhfa/
- I have completed both the adult and youth mental health first aid multiple times and highly recommend this resource for non-clinicians or clinicians new to practicing.
- Website with alternative resources to reach out to in different types of emergencies other than the police: https://dontcallthepolice.com/philadelphia/
- I found this while double checking to see if there were any new resources for alternatives to 911, so I have not used this website myself. However, I did personally review the Philadelphia page and I believe it is accurate except that it only lists 4 CRCs and Philly has 5. They did not include the CRC at Mercy Hospital, however I wrote them to request it be added. The 5 CRCs are listed in the NAMI resource above as well.
Research paper: Food Insecurity Predicts Urban Gun Violence
Bebashi: Transition To Hope is working to start a school-based food pantry in Germantown.
Bebashi’s Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) Project, which addresses food insecurity, held a community conversation on March 8th with Dr. Randi N. Smith to discuss her research paper and how it might apply to Philadelphia. Read the full article by Randi N. Smith, MD, MPH, Keneeshia N. Williams, MD, Robert M. Roach, BS, and Brett M. Tracy, MD here.
Research paper:The Effects of Learning about Black History for Low-income African American Male Youth
A participant brought up the possible impact that learning Black history has on an at-risk population. She found the work of psychologist Dr. Quentin L. Stubbins, who identified a host of positive outcomes on young Black men. Read Dr. Stubbins’ dissertation, The Effects of Learning about Black History on Racial Identity, Self-efficacy, Self-esteem, and Depression Among Low-income African American Male Youth, here.
‘Weight of Death’ docuseries
Unity in the Community is producing a docuseries about families with lived experiences of losing loved ones to gun violence. The first episode tells the story of the life and death of 23-year-old Dominique Oglesby.
Sometimes I Cry in June
Filmmaker Shameka Sawyer’s brother was shot and killed in East Germantown on June 1, 2020. She produced a documentary that was “part eulogy, part love letter” to her brother. The film has been accepted in several film festivals won ‘best documentary short’ at the 2021 IndieEye Film Awards.
Watch the documentary here.
Philadelphia performers singing for peace
Phase 5 Records will be hosting Wake Up Rise Up, a worldwide virtual concert for peace, on September 21, 2021. Phase 5 Records started in Germantown in 1981.
Do you have a resource to share or would like to join the next community conversation? Email the Germantown Info Hub at email@example.com.