By Nyesha Stone
The Black community has been through a lot, and a lot of our problems seemed to get pushed aside by society, and by ourselves. There’s this stigma that mental health isn’t an issue, especially in the Black community, and because of this people tend to not seek out help.
The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD) is working to break down the stigma of mental illness and their driving force is their staff.
Lauren Hubbard, RN, Nurse Manager of Psychiatric Crisis Services (PCS) has been with BHD for five years. Hubbard educates the community on mental health and encourages them to get connected to resources to improve their quality of life.
Her first three and a half years at BHD she was a staff nurse but then she was promoted to manager of the emergency services. Now, she coaches, mentors and develops her staff into the best staff they can be. She does this by helping them integrate what they learned in school with the job’s needs.
Hubbard believes she’s absolutely changed since working for BHD because of the tasks and the different variety people she serves every day. With her only being five feet tall and around 120lbs, she encounters people who are 2x her size, but that doesn’t scare her.
“I can come against huge guys and I’m able to talk to them,” said Hubbard. “I can calm down any situation just using my words.”
She grew up in the 53206-zip code where she experienced and witnessed a lot of trauma. It wasn’t until she started working with BHD that she finally understood what those people in her childhood were going through mentally.
To improve the health of the community and especially the black community, Hubbard said, “we need to work together as a community to break down the stigma of mental health.”
According to American Psychological Association, just last year alone, 45.1 million adults were dealing with any type of mental illness.
Hubbard says BHD helps not only Milwaukee residents but people from all over the world. According to Hubbard, people change their place of living to be closer to BHD to receive their services.
BHD offers its patients a variety of services such as 24-hour emergency services, an international suicide hotline which can be used to ask for resources and references, and if needed, BHD can and will get law enforcement involved depending on the situation.
Given the wide variety of people who enter BHD’s doors, not everyone is insured, but that doesn’t mean they don’t receive help. Hubbard says they never turn a patient away because of that reason, instead, they either care for them or give them the resources to find insurance.
Hubbard loves her job and she said if BHD wasn’t in Milwaukee it would have drastic effects on the city and the state. Without BHD, a lot of people wouldn’t know where to go for mental health services, and other resources BHD provides. Its disappearance would increase the number of people who go to emergency rooms, and people dealing with mental health issues, being in the emergency room isn’t always the best setting.
With everything BHD provides for the community, they also need more staff. Jan. 11, 2018 BHD is hosting a nursing fair, in which they’re looking for RNs with either an associate or bachelor’s degree.
The fair will be held in BHD, 9455 W. Watertown Plank Road from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is not required, but bring a photo I.D and a resume.