Jul 8, 2020

This is No Ordinary Time

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “This is no ordinary time.”

The Center for Health and Learning believes it is time to make a clear statement about equitable respect and caring for all people in this American society, of which we are a part. All people should know they belong and are valued, and as the Umatter® message says, “You have a place in the big picture.” 

“We” - white, black and brown people on the Board of Directors and employed by CHL - stand together as allies. When one of us suffers, we all suffer, and we lose a part of our collective humanity that makes us whole people and a whole community.

All forms of systemic racism must stop, including the systems that perpetuate police violence and brutality. We watched the painful, visual and auditory rendering of the death of one of our black citizens at the hands of a police force meant to serve and protect us all. Violence in all forms in our society does not fit into the big picture of a society that functions under democratic principles and values of care and concern.

The economic ravages of COVID-19 and violence in society have come together to expose just how much needs to change about social attitudes in America. CHL denounces the culture of white supremacy and systemic racism that leads to school to prison pipelines, mass incarceration, police violence, and poverty, and inequitable access to resources. We express our support to those who are protesting peacefully across the United States, demanding an end to police violence and justice.

We know that entire communities of color have historically been harmed by systemic racism and oppression, and underserved by discriminatory policies and budgets. While we have all experienced a lot this spring, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the impact that the disparities in health outcomes that COVID-19 has had in communities of color. Recently, the Vermont Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued the Disparities in School Discipline in Vermont highlighting disparities in disciplinary policies toward black and brown children in Vermont, which runs in parallel process to research across the country. The relentless, centuries-old, racism and oppression that fueled the coopting of Black lives in America must end. We all deserve the opportunity to succeed and thrive

The current situation requires each of us to place attention on what needs to change. CHL works across sectors to impact the individual level of health among students in the educational system, patients in the health care system and those who are part of our social services systems. Today, we commit to ensuring that CHL’s programs, grants, systems and practices align with these commitments:

*Proactively address our own unconscious biases as a team through the ongoing commitment to planned trainings, dialogue, and consistent communication about assessing how we are becoming anti-racist as an organization and individuals;

*Deeply listen to and learn from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color through our projects with educational, health care and community partners;

*Ensure that the sentiments expressed herein are reflected in our work, staffing, recruitment policies, and operational decisions;

*Hold ourselves and our grantees, partners, and stakeholders accountable for making progress toward equity and justice for all. 


1.  Don't forget to register for this year's 2020 VT Suicide Prevention Symposium!

2.  Please check out our upcoming Suicide Prevention Webinar Series!



Join us for this year's Symposium!
Join us for this year's Symposium!

May 29, 2020

Moving Forward, but Some Things Remain Constant

Dear Friends,

Last week I saw a Facebook post of a dear colleague who works in healthcare that pulled at my heartstrings. It spoke about the difficult decisions people are facing regarding personal and family safety and work responsibilities.  I know this colleague has the resources (mind, body and spirit) to pull off what is being asked. She also has food, water and shelter – the basic necessities of life, upon which we are all reflecting about, more each day. Still…

I have been thinking a lot about how we will get through this. The logical order of things gets scrambled when the inputs change hourly, therefore, thinking in terms of short, intermediate and long term outcomes is a bit challenging right now. 

Some things remain certain:

There are a lot of people doing the best they can. People are working hard to fulfill their responsibilities while making adjustments personally, with their networks, and by interacting with the systems that promise to maintain stability. Our American society is largely observing the guidelines our government is providing while COVID-19” and the meaning of pandemic becomes a permanent part of our consciousness.  

We want to thank everyone who continues to function under this pressure, and for the bonds of community that hold us together as families, organizations, communities, and as a state.  We are thinking of you, and you, and you, during this period of time, especially our partners in healthcare and education, and in community services. We are thankful that government and legislature continue to do the work they signed up for, and are elected to do.    

Here at CHL, this pandemic makes us think further about how we carry out our core values and mission in practice, while we work on the projects, policies and programs that further expose the gaps of resources and weaknesses in systems of services.  Because of this, we are working to get more of our Umatter® trainings online, and to offer trainings and technical assistance in a format that is helpful to our partners.  Your support is even more important now as people navigate this crisis and may depend on available mental health resources to cope.  Please help us in this effort. 

We made it through another winter in New England and with the warmth of spring and the promise of summer there is a lot to look forward to, even during strange times and in uncharted waters.

Please take heart, take care, ask for resources and help when you need it, and stay in touch.

May 8, 2020

Umatter YYA moves online!

With all the uncertainty that COVID 19 is bringing to our lives and communities, CHL and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center wants to remain a resource for young people with Umatter® Youth and Young Adults.  We can’t always guarantee safety with in person events, and so for the moment, we are adapting and sustaining our work in order to maintain contact with our youth participants even though they are out of the physical school environment. 

We are moving to the virtual-verse!

Since the Umatter YYA in-person culmination event scheduled for April 29 was cancelled, we are moving the event to a virtual format. Through a facilitated process, Umatter YYA participants will be able to share their stories, experiences with YYA, celebrate successes, and generally connect about what is happening in their worlds.

Because the YYA curriculum concepts are as important now as ever. 

CHL is also offering interested youth a wonderful creative opportunity by requesting input on a re-design of the UmatterUcanGetHelp.org website.  This award-winning website will be improved and informed by youth feedback about how it could be better and more useful to them and their peers.

Knowing how important it is to continue this work, CHL will continue to adapt our programming to meet the needs of the schools, adults and young people who we have the honor of working with. 

We expect there to be many more mental health challenges to address that have been brought on with the current COVID-19 crisis.  With your support, we can be there to help.

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