SEARAC Unites With California Partners to Celebrate Our Right to Heal

SEARAC staff and our California partners pose together at the Right to Heal event. (Photo courtesy of SEARAC)

SACRAMENTO, CA – Last month, SEARAC joined our California-based advocacy and health services partners to host the third annual “The Right to Heal: Centering Mental Health Multi-Racial Equity in California.” Individuals, community organizations, and clinical providers from across the state gathered at Sacramento State University to learn more about the mental health needs of diverse communities in California.

Together, we built connections across regions and communities to identify assets and needs, developed strategies to sustain regional mobilization efforts led by local partners, discussed the latest findings from this year’s listening sessions, created learning opportunities, and empowered people to advocate for themselves, their families and communities to improve mental health and wellness.

Ka Shoua Thao, FIRM’s Communications Manager, facilitating Tiny Teaches session. (Photo courtesy of Michael Baltazar)

Key themes emerging from the robust discussions at this year’s event include:

  • Cross-sector collaboration between clinicians and community-based organizations is necessary for systems change
  • Comprehensive language accessibility for Southeast Asian American (SEAA) and Latinx communities is vital to holistic healthcare
  • We heal our best when we receive care through a community-focused lens that takes into account culture, language, and history
  • It is essential to promote and celebrate cultural dance, practices, and heritage as we think about health and healthcare

Vicki Kham (far left) and dancers from FIRM performing Salavan, a Laotian song and dance, at Sacramento State’s University Ballroom. (Photo courtesy of Michael Baltazar)

SEARAC remains steadfast in our commitment to advocate for mental health support for Southeast Asian Americans in California. In 2019, SEARAC collected almost 250 responses from SEAAs across the state to share their mental health needs, the challenges they faced in accessing culturally and linguistically appropriate care, and their vision for the state’s mental health system. Earlier this year, SEARAC uplifted SEAA and NHPI youth voices of over 200 people regarding COVID-19’s effect on mental wellness by bridging the gap of research that focuses on the mental health status of often marginalized Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ethnicities.

“SEARAC was thrilled to be a part of Right to Heal for the third year. Our voices and experiences as Southeast Asian Americans were uplifted as we discussed mental health challenges and trauma due to experiences of war, genocide, and displacement,” shared Thuy Do, SEARAC California Program Manager. “The presence and engagement of our SEAA and NHPI partners and community members at the event resonated with the love, wisdom, and trust we have built over the years.

“Joining SEARAC for this year’s Right to Heal felt like coming home. Every step of the way, our team was uplifted and our community members were met with joy,shared Ravi Seng, MA, Program Coordinator at The Cambodian Family. “Right to Heal felt like a victory lap where we came together with friends and partners across the state to celebrate our wins and our progress made throughout the year, and our community members were so grateful for the chance to be recognized for their hard work.”

Community members, organization representatives, and providers gathering at the Right to Heal event networking session. (Photo courtesy of Michael Baltazar)

This year’s Right to Heal event was a powerful affirmation for collaborating across diverse cultures and sharing unique perspectives to grow together for change. Our communities’ cultural and linguistic needs were highlighted, and in-language workshops empowered our community members to advocate for themselves and their families. SEARAC is proud to be a part of this growing movement to connect deeply with our communities’ needs to achieve mental health access and navigation.

For more information about the Right to Heal, our partners at CPEHN have released a podcast that you can download and listen here. Additionally, our partners at FIRM have written an event recap that shares highlights from the Right to Heal, which you can access here.