#Standing4BlackGirls Youth Campaign Letter to Mayor Karen Bass: We Need Culturally Responsive Mental Health

Stand Up for Black Girls

By Kimberly Ortiz

As an 18 year-old student activist member of the Women’s Leadership Project,  and a first generation Latina college student from Watts, I am concerned about the surge in violence against Black women and girls because suicide rates among middle school and high school aged Black girls ages 12-14 increased by 59% from 2003-2019. This is a statistic that grounded me more in the aspect of how little attention is given to Black and Brown girls’ mental health. Reflecting upon South L.A., we are in need of serious support that can empower the community to be more united. Growing up, I have been a witness to the struggles of poverty, lack of energy due to stress or anxiety from school, or simply feeling constant exposure to violent crime. Suicide is not something that should be taken lightly. Oftentimes, the “signs” or “symptoms” never even showed because  people repress them . Unfortunately, the reality is that there is little to no culturally responsive therapy available to young girls of color in our communities. The mental health resources that are available in our communities are not inclusive and don’t make  young women and girls of color feel safe. I would personally love to witness the impact that culturally responsive mental health resources can have on the lives of  young girls like me and my peers.