Mental Health Working Group Statement
Our Work/Role with HEART
The Mental Health Working Group has several roles: a) recommend mental health training practices for HEART responders; b) identify and connect with community resources such as peer responders and mutual aid networks; c) collaborate with the The Liability and Oversight Committee of the Cambridge HEART Board of Directors around issues of liability, licensure, mandated reporting requirements, etc; d) collaborate on drafting and commenting on protocols around responding to mental health crises; and e) provide additional forms of mental health and wellness support to staff as relevant and possible.
Care and Emergency Response
We believe that all people deserve appropriate, accessible, and relevant support for their wellness. Emergency responders who are trained to use empathy, active listening, trauma-informed practices, and nonviolent communication can help to de-escalate and resolve mental health emergencies. Importantly, emergency responders who have lived experience with mental health issues can be a vital asset when given the right infrastructure, support, and resources. They are uniquely qualified, as they possess a deeper understanding of what a client might be experiencing and may have direct experiences with the negative effects of the current systems in place. This knowledge will inform their interactions with clients. We have seen that only (or mostly) using responders who are licensed mental health clinicians—especially those without personal lived experience—is both unnecessary and actively harmful to creating alternative response systems. That’s another reason why HEART does not use clinicians as responders, but does engage them in other areas of the work, including supporting staff, training, advocacy, and more. Our responders themselves are receiving extensive training including, but not limited to, certification as peer specialists through KIVA.
HEART will be working independently of law enforcement and focusing on extensively preparing responders, a support network, and resources that can truly make our communities safer. Co-responder models that use mental health professionals alongside armed police are not in practice a community-grounded, alternative model to policing. Police are not adequately equipped to safely, compassionately, and appropriately handle mental health emergencies. In fact, the presence of armed police often escalates already volatile mental health emergencies. Furthermore, clinicians in these co-responder models are often forced to act in ways that violate their professional ethical codes due to the lack of resources available to them, little power to effect change while police is present, and a reliance on crime and punishment framing. This not only harms people who have the police called on them, but also creates what Kim Young, LCSW names as a moral injury for clinicians.
Mandatory reporting is not neutral. Mental health crises in our communities are handled very differently depending on the perceived identities of those involved, and in ways that harm marginalized and under-resourced communities. Mandatory reporting requirements in practice (inclusive of issues such as suspected child abuse, elder abuse, abuse of people with disabilities, harm to self, and harm to others) disproportionately and negatively impact marginalized communities. We aim to limit the use of mandatory reporting structures and mandatory reporters in our work while still respecting local policies and laws.
Who We Are
Aida Manduley, LICSW (they/them & elle/le) is an award-winning Latinx organizer, bilingual clinician, and international presenter known for big earrings and building bridges. Trained as a health educator, social worker, and nonprofit executive, they’re working to make the world a more equitable place and get us all more comfortable with hard conversations. Their 15+ years of training and facilitation experience has yielded a range of successful collaborations with clients ranging from Departments of Health and Ivy League institutions to small grassroots organizations and neighborhood associations. Mx. Manduley is also known for launching Rhode Island's first Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Program housed at a domestic violence agency in 2011, which included groundbreaking data-collection on LGBTQ domestic violence and building the infrastructure to provide on-site HIV testing. Past projects include crisis-response with victims of sexual assault, consulting with state departments on LGBTQ health, and extensive leadership on a number of national and regional coalitions on HIV & STI prevention, BIPOC development, sexuality education, and anti-violence. As a Boston-based therapist, their practice focuses on trauma and communities marginalized due to gender, sexuality, and race. However, they are also devoted to merging clinical acumen with macro efforts through involvement in various projects exploring community-grounded and alternative responses to violence since 2011—including Cambridge HEART and its Mental Health Working Group—as well as the development of clinical treatment guidelines for stigmatized communities.
Steve Wineman is a retired mental health worker and author of Power-Under: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change.
Eva Tine is an abolitionist social worker with specialized training in trauma and harm reduction. Eva is also co-chair of the NASW-MA’s Mental Health and Substance Use Shared Interest group, facilitator of the Homelessness Empowerment Coalition, is a member of many advocacy groups, and co-created and ran the "Housing is Healthcare" Permanent Supportive Housing program for people from Boston's Mass & Cass neighborhood. Eva now serves as Director of Housing and Homelessness with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, where she is pouring her energy into preventing and ending homelessness in Massachusetts. Eva has also been a Cambridge resident and parent for many years and is deeply dedicated to collaborating with the people and communities most harmed by our current systems, to create a Cambridge, and world, where EVERYONE can stabilize, heal, and thrive.
Lauren Leone, DAT, LMHC, ATR-BC (she/her) is an artist, art therapist, and licensed mental health counselor who has experience working with art therapy participants in clinical and community-based settings in Somerville and Boston, MA. She has a decade of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate art therapy. Lauren's research focuses on the history and impact of socially engaged craft practices, and how craft activism can support art therapy practitioners and participants in activating change in their communities. Lauren holds a Masters of Arts in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in art therapy from Lesley University and a Doctorate in art therapy from Mount Mary University.
Stephanie Guirand (she, her, hers) is a founding member of The Black Response Cambridge that has convened the participatory action process for developing the Cambridge Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (HEART) model. She is the Board President of Cambridge HEART and is working with other TBR staff and the HEART coalition to implement Cambridge HEART. Stephanie is a formerly undocumented immigrant from Haiti and has lived in Cambridge for over 25 years. She identifies as a cis-woman and has a non-visible disability (history of seizures formerly considered epileptic). Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, masters degree from University of London, SOAS, and is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London in the Sociology Department. Stephanie Guirand is a gender specialist who identifies as a Black radical intersectional feminist. Her thesis focuses on housing policy and housing transience among low income African-descended men. She likes to go on long hikes.
Anne Janks is a union and community organizer in Oakland CA. She got involved in policing accountability during the Coalition for Police Accountability’s 2016 campaign for community oversight of the Oakland Police Department. Subsequently, she has worked on integrating community involvement into policy advocacy and development, public outreach and education, and developing alternate response models for emergency calls for Urban Strategies Council.
Jacqueline Kung, MD (she/they) is an Internal Medicine and Endocrinology physician at Tufts Medical Center.
Spencer Piston, PhD (he/his) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Boston University. He studies the politics of racial and economic oppression, as well as resistance to oppression.
Elizabeth Hitzel (she/her) is a Cambridge community member and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree from Smith College. During clinical internships she has worked with individuals with chronic and persistent mental health conditions. She has an interest in addressing systemic oppression and inequities and working towards liberation for all. Her background includes community health, domestic violence advocacy, and working with people impacted by sexual violence.
Rachel Drucker (she/her) is a School-Based Social Worker for Somerville Public Schools and a member of the Kavod Boston Community Safety Team. She completed a dual masters in Social Work and Special Education at Boston University and has a particular interest in disability justice.