We are sending care and calm your way. In response to the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, RECLAIM is taking the following steps to help educate our community about the impacts on trans people and their families and to protect immuno-compromised clients & practitioners:
- Youth will access individual therapy through telehealth, rather than in person, through at least April 3, with exceptions for clients with critical accessibility needs. Staff will work remotely via virtual options.
- Group therapy is cancelled for week of March 16-20. We are working on a way for youth who attend gender group and BIPOC group to connect with their peers and clinicians online as a way to prevent social isolation, potentially in a non-clinical space. Clinicians will keep group members updated.
- Volunteer activities are postponed through at least April 3.
- We are appealing to our community for financial support to help us fully equip clinicians to shift to telehealth - this includes laptops for each fellow and intern (currently interns and fellows use shared equipment).
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. If you have questions about COVID-19, please call the MDH coronavirus hotline at 651-201-3920 or visit the MN Department of Health for online guidance. Please help us to publicize the below solidarity statement, written by RECLAIM therapist and Project CLEAR Manager Abbie Shain on RECLAIM's behalf.
Maryrose Dolezal, Co-Executive Director
RECLAIM SOLIDARITY STATEMENT ON COVID 19
March 17, 2020
In times of crisis, the brokenness of our safety nets are particularly revealing, leaving the most vulnerable the most at risk. We at RECLAIM are mental health professionals committed to expanding access to mental health support for queer and trans young people. In this capacity, we are concerned about social distancing for populations who are already isolated. We reject the false pretence that poverty, racism, violence, and oppression are givens. Still, we acknowledge that these inequities exist now and call us to more nuance as we consider a response.
We are learning that distance is a kind of care. RECLAIM will be shifting to online, HIPAA compliant mental health support through at least April 3. Clinicians will be in touch with youth about how to connect during this time. We made this choice to prioritize community wellness and with reverence for what happens when humans gather in person. When people do get sick, we will have separated ourselves so that there will always be people at RECLAIM to care for our community.
Alongside with this policy shift, we urge larger institutions to consider unintended consequences of closing. For queer and trans young people, international students, asylum seekers, and abuse and trauma survivors, social distancing without caring alternatives can pose a signficant risk to physical and emotional wellbeing. For people living with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, routine and healthy social connection is key to healing. We must find ways to connect with each other to promote healing justice. At RECLAIM we are working to find online ways to bring our gender group and BIPOC groups together for social support, and finding ways to stay virtually connected as a staff team.
As this particular virus was first discovered in China, the rise in bigotry and hateful attacks against Asian Americans have skyrocketed. As mental health workers committed to racial justice, we condemn racist reporting, policy, and discrimination. Righting these wrongs must be part of our response.
Towards this end, we are committed to the following interventions:
- Prioritizing social and emotional needs alongside virus containment
- Offering housing, meals, mental and physical health referrals, and travel resources for people who face systemic barriers to accessing safety and meeting their basic needs
- Promoting antiracism in our language and actions responding to this virus
- Expanding internet to people without reliable access
- Flexibility for people arranging childcare
- Proposing humane timelines for implementing new policies that give a social safety net response time to meet needs for vulnerable people
Yes, wash our hands; yes, practice more active sanitation practices. However, the systems of oppression which become so clear in times of crisis hurt more people than COVID-19 ever will. Changing this will take all of us. We are ready.