By Martha Cecilia Ovadia, Senior Program Associate for Equity Programs and Communications

This message originally appeared in the PLACES Connection Newsletter, which goes to the alumni of the TFN PLACES Fellowship.

We know it has been an incredibly difficult year. We could list all of the horror here today, but not only would that be redundant, the relentless nature of 2020 means that by the time this message reaches you, we may already need to add more to the list of things you have had to wade through. And the truth is, we see you. We have seen you working all year to survive and thrive on every front and we are so proud of the PLACES Alumni Network — not just this year, but every year.

But especially this year.

And so, we have decided that instead of closing out this year with a tacky message of “we made it!” when so many have not, we wanted to close out this year and cautiously welcome in 2021 in gratefulness and reflection. We wanted to share our reflections on what we have learned from YOU in 2020. And we hope you can tuck these into your back pockets as you reflect on the strength, courage, resiliency and humanity you have all shown this year — to your fellow practitioners, your communities, (chosen) families and yourselves. If you find yourselves struggling during this holiday/break, we ask you to remember these 4 things that you model for us and our network all year.

It’s Okay to Ask tor Help
You have all been dealing with significant trauma and mental hardship this year. It is understandable to feel alone, isolated and overwhelmed. And yet this year, more than any, we have seen you truly reach out for help, establish boundaries for your mental health and resiliency and commit to a real push in our sector to have conversations about normalizing mental health discussions and priorities, while also dismantling the ableism that came well before Covid-19 and 2020 but that must be eradicated in their wake. We thank you for still being here with us and for advocating for yourselves and others.

Slowing Down and Rest are Vital
When the pandemic first started, so many of us thought, “Look at all this time!” Many of us were able to put aside commutes. Many of us stopped traveling. And many of us naively said, “I will read more. I will take up a hobby or exercise.” And then the realities of the pandemic hit and we realized that a trivialized approach to rest — the one the sector and our economic system push so heavily as “self care” — would not do. When every call became a zoom meeting, and every office became a school and a daycare, and every minute of every hour was now available to be worked because home was work — we had to learn to slow down. We had to learn to say no. We had to learn to block out time: time for sleep, healing, grieving, loving and finding the will to stay the course in a way that was healthy but also set up equitable boundaries for yourselves and others. So many of you, over happy hours, emails and texts, have shared the many ways you have practiced (and failed and tried again) at slowing down and prioritizing your health. We thank you for your care of self.

Radical Joy is as Valuable as Righteous Rage
You have all felt so much over the last year (years, decades and centuries). And yet, when you think back on this year, amidst the chaos of civil unrest, a pandemic and our democracy in peril, may you also remember the laughs. May you remember the zoom calls with colleagues, (chosen) families and friends that reminded us that this is a world where our joy challenges the narrative of oppression as much as our bodies on the street protesting and mobilizing. Remember the joy hand in hand with the rage. You are not automatons and your resistance must reflect your full humanity. We have seen you celebrate births, career moves, marriages, adoptions, new puppies and so much more this year. We have seen you celebrate in spite of heavy hearts, refusing to hand over your humanity to the oppressor. And that, in turn, has lit our own fires to keep on fighting. We thank you for your joy and rage. It is when you bring your whole selves into this fight that we ourselves feel free to also fully inhabit our space in this fight.

Hope is a Learned Practice
And finally, it is radical to hope in this fight. And yet, like anything worth learning, you must practice it. And it is only with practice that it becomes easier and easier. Eventually, it becomes muscle memory — an integral part of who you are that you cannot exorcise out of you because you fought too hard to embed it. We thank you for keeping the light burning. We thank you on behalf of the PLACES team, The Funders Network and most importantly your communities, both professional and personal.

Mental Health Resources

In our commitment to normalize talking about mental health and tackling the ableism that silences so many, we want to share the following mental health resources with the PLACES Alumni Network. We hope that if you or yours need them, you will find them useful and you will seek safe harbor.

Mental Health Resources

1. Black Mental Health Resources
2. Indigenous Mental Health Resources
3. Latinx and Hispanic Mental Health Resources
4. LGBTQI Mental Health Resources
5. Men’s Mental Health Resources
6. Women’s Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Provider Directories

Inclusive Therapists: Virtual directory of culturally competent and social justice-oriented therapists; includes list of therapists currently offering reduced-fee teletherapy

Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American (APISAA) Therapist Directory: Virtual directory of APISAA mental health providers

Latinx Therapy: Virtual directory of mental health providers for Latinx community

QTPoC Mental Health Practitioner Directory: Virtual directory of mental health practitioners across the country for queer and trans people of color, provided by the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

Black Emotional And Mental Health (BEAM) Virtual Therapist Network: Virtual directory of Black mental health clinicians who provide virtual (i.e. telemedicine) services

Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Resource Directory: Virtual directory of mental health providers, programs and resource materials for the African-American community

Black Mental Health Alliance: Virtual directory of culturally-competent and patient-centered licensed mental health professionals

Melanin & Mental Health Directory: Virtual directory of culturally competent mental health clinicians for Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities

Therapy for Black Girls Directory: Virtual directory of culturally competent therapy providers for Black women and girls, searchable by location. Fellowships and financial assistance are available through the Loveland Foundation.

Therapy for Black Men Directory: Virtual directory of clinicians providing therapy for Black men

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call: 800-273-8255
Text: HELLO to 741741

About The Author

Martha Cecilia Ovadia is the Senior Program Associate for Equity Programs and Communications at The Funders Network. She is also a part of the TFN PLACES Fellowship team.

Privacy Preference Center