Estoy Aqui addresses suicide and mental health by examining the underlying social, cultural, and structural issues that affect our well-being. We acknowledge that there are both benefits and barriers to accessing any form of mental health care. We encourage you to research and find the resources that best suit your needs and help you navigate what forms of care to tap into along your unique journey.
Listen to Estoy Aqui’s #WhyIAmStillHere #PorQueSigoAqui podcast series for a more in-depth exploration of 8 activities that can foster Community Care!
“Wow! I love that. - Yes! Thank you for making that connection! - this is Fantastic!” This was my response repeatedly as I journeyed through my recent podcast series, #WhyIAmStillHere #PorQueSigoAqui. Being a host for the first time was a little nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time.
The question I was curious about was: What is the connection between community, culture, and mental health? Since the 1960s, the subject of self-care has been steadily on the rise in U.S. mainstream media (Slate). Today, it has become a mental health call to action and promises to boost self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being. It is a multimillion-dollar idea, and its message is clear.
Take care of yourself first.
But for many experiencing stress, trauma, and even thoughts of death, self-care can feel very overwhelming and isolating. Especially for those of us in Black and Brown communities where microaggressions, implicit bias, and discrimination are ever present, self-care falls short as a protective factor for our mental health.
By broadening the idea of mental health care to include the community, we expand the resources we have to become and stay well. - "Community Care has existed in the Latinx and QTBIPOC communities for generations and is rooted in collectivistic beliefs that the well-being of the individual is intrinsically tied to the well-being of others” (MHA).
In Community Care, we share space, give energy, and make time for others. We work to build our own strengths while supporting others in finding theirs. We begin to connect the dots of what works for us as we help others on their journey and create a sense of belonging through activities of shared creativity and social connection.
Listen to Estoy Aqui’s #WhyIAmStillHere #PorQueSigoAqui podcast series
1. FOOD: Public Health, Cultural Assimilation & Community Care
“Improving our health, we can do that as a community. When you are looking at health from a holistic place, you have to address food. You have to address where this person lives, what they have access to, how much money they have….” - Ariana Williams
When you look at a list of “healthy” foods and say, “Wait, MY food is not there,” what does that mean? The social connection, reciprocity, and labor of love we experience through cooking, eating, and shopping OUR food is a powerful form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Garcia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Ariana Williams, BSPH, CHW, Strategic Grant Writer
2. JOURNAL SWAPPING: Communication, Honesty & Community Care
“A lot of us are unlearning the barriers around not communicating because it wasn't normalized. Culturally, we weren't allowed to talk about our feelings. When writing [journal swapping], we always had to be very intentional. We always had to speak from love even if it was something difficult.” - Stephanie Marrero-Wilson.
Journal Swapping is a complex and intentional communication process with those we love. It can build our capacity for conflict resolution and trust by teaching us to resist urgency and impulsivity. Honest communication through Journal Swapping is a courageous and authentic form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Stephanie Marrero-Wilson, Founder, Beneath The Healing
3. THE BARBERSHOP: Black Hair Joy, Trust Building & Community Care
“ People are actually talking, and maybe the tv is going, and so you are seeing the news and striking up a conversation. You can kind of see how are people doing with what is happening in their everyday lives. It is the development of culture and community…it transcends generations.” - Tanisha Arena.
It is so much more than hair. You get your specific Barber time and time again. They KNOW you. You TRUST them with your vision of who you are. Barbershops are powerful places of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Tanisha Arena, Executive Director, Arise for Social Justice
4. GAMING: Dialogue, Skill Building & Community Care
“Gaming is a time and space for my own interests. It also allows for a lot of community building. It starts conversations.. and you can learn a lot about different cultures and different aspects of life that you might not have thought about before.” - Charlie Laboy.
Dialogue, character creation, and laughter make Gaming a unique learning culture. Gamers learn how to connect with others, gather resources, and problem-solve. Building skills alongside others makes gaming an engaging and fun form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Charlie Laboy, Founder, BoyCharliePlays
“Self-care does not have to turn into a capitalist hustle. It can just be something that centers and grounds you. And if I want to make a simple scarf for a shelter or some program…why not? There are just so many different ways to use crochet to build community.” - Jose Luis Maldonado Velez.
The fiber community connects Art to Activism by supplying people in need with hats, scarves, and other pieces. As a stress reliever, crocheting can slow our breathing, increase our focus, and support social connection through gift offerings. ARTivists make crocheting a creative and meaningful form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Jose Luis Maldonado Velez, Holyoke Counselor At Large
6. BABYWEARING: Connection, Family & Community Care
“Generations of people have lost or have been denied their cultural babywearing and baby-caring traditions. Empowering yourself to take back these practices…carries on that mental and emotional feeling of being connected to your community.” - Laconia Fennell.
Doulas work through every stage of birth and baby care that includes all types of caregivers; everyone in the family benefits from the emotional connectedness resulting from babywearing. Babywearing is a sacred form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Laconia Fennell, Holistic Birth Doula, Springfield Family Doulas
“The process of colonization separated us from the land, from our medicine, from the way that we feed ourselves. [It is about] going back to the root and taking care of that soil. Gardening work is Placemaking…a third place for folks [to be] stewards, not just of the land but also the community.” - Terry Gibson
Soil Care takes care of the soil our plants grow in. It benefits our mental health through opportunities for connecting with nature, socializing, and physical exercise. It is also an immune system regulator that creates healthier food. Soil Care is a grounding form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Terry Gibson, Field and Cultural Organizer, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts
8. SPOKEN WORD: Creativity, Verbal Arts & Community Care
“Spoken word…it is just me expressing myself and people feeling comfortable to express themselves. It is an art form. They say a picture paints a thousand words. I flip it in reverse. A thousand words paint a picture.” - Aaron Joseph St. Louis
Verbal Arts allow room for honest communication and brave spaces. Spoken word poetry can help break the tension, reframe thoughts, and increase self-esteem. It allows us to understand different perspectives and make sense of the world through storytelling. Spoken Word is a creative form of Community Care.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST feat. Ysabel Gacia, Founder, Estoy Aquí Aaron Joseph St. Louis, Spoken Word Artist
It's always so interesting and a true gift to see what our kids choose to be for Halloween when given total choice over their costumes. 🤩
May we always encourage our children to freely express every aspect of themselves and not project our own old socially-constructed programming about what they “should” do, like, or be in this world. Let's give them the autonomy to decide and embrace the things they show interest in. 🎃
And also, let's not forget---it's also up to us to guide children in understanding that **CULTURE IS NOT A COSTUME** so that we can, as a family, be careful and conscious about the harms of appropriation.
What costumes did your children choose this year? 👻
Parents & adults—I know it’s Monday but let’s enjoy some Halloween fun! Give yourselves permission to not take yourselves super seriously today, K?! JUEGA! PLAY! Use this opportunity to let your inner child shine and play, too. Your children will appreciate it far beyond Halloween. 🥰
So, what are you dressing up as today? What about your kids⁉️
I often tell my children that they have a right to say, "No," even to me.
Setting boundaries has not only been good for my children but it’s also benefitted my entire family (my own Mami is so much better at advocating for herself now, too.)
With the holidays just around the corner, it's the perfect time to get comfortable setting boundaries for you and your familia.
✨ As challenging as it can be, it will be liberating for us and generations to come. ✨
Check out the full article under Press Features under our bio!
And, if you'd like to learn more about boundaries and how to set them with confidence, check out our A Mi Manera Workshop! Our supportive workshop will give you the tools to approach different situations respectfully and firmly. Plus, you'll learn how to truly be an advocate for your own kids so they can feel confident using their voices as well.
Then---on November 12th, I'll be holding a LIVE Integration Session where we'll dive into the workshop content a little deeper and discuss all the ways you can implement boundaries with your familia y queridos.
Equity pricing IS available---we don't want anyone to miss out on participating! You can see the details on the checkout page of our workshop.
👉🏽 🔗 in BI0 to save your seat!
Years ago, my comadre was expressing frustration her struggle to have a relationship with her own parents after her son had been born.
She & her husband lived in the family house & her parents would frequently cross boundaries: expressing preferences between grandchildren, openly giving her & her partner unsolicited advice about how to raise & discipline their son, frequently gaslighting, & guilt-tripping them when they would attempt to set a boundary, undermining any limits attempted to be set with their son, frequently asserting non-consensual affection, & gossiping about other family members including their other kids. 😓
This created a stressful & harmful environment for her little familia. They were trying their best to be grateful, respectful, & tactful about this, but also recognized that it wasn’t healthy for their son to be in that environment, even if it was family.
As a collective cultura, this story may feel familiar to a lot of us. Everybody’s been up in everybody’s business for generations & we’re now realizing that it doesn’t feel good, and it may not be right for our familias.
No matter what, the well-being of our growing niñes comes before the feelings of loved ones. And grandparents, tíos, tías, primas, etc. *DO NOT* have the right to have access to our niñes, period. As their protectors, we have the option to take access away if it gets to a point where boundaries have been violated.
Pero...HOW do we do this? Well, it’s hard! We need support around it, and LOTS of practice.
If you've been struggling to set boundaries in your familia, then I'm inviting you to enroll in our “A MI MANERA” Workshop. We discuss how to set boundaries firmly & communicate our needs with our families while preserving relationships.
Then, on November 12th, I'll be holding a LIVE Integration session for all participants where we’ll gather and talk about the ways we can apply all this to everyday situations. No te lo piedras! ⏰
👉🏽 🔗 in BI0 to learn more & enroll! #LatinxParenting #EndChanclaCulture #RaisingFutureAncestors #DecolonizeOurFamilias #IJustWantMiGenteToHeal #TheCycleStopsConmigo...
Leave a Reply