Baltimore's new health commissioner
Dr. Leana Wen

The physical effects of unrest are visible in many areas of Baltimore. But living through harrowing events also takes its toll mentally. With a pair of new grants, the U.S. government is looking to help Baltimore cope.

The city’s health department received a $5 million grant that’s specifically targeted to help Penn North, Upton and Sandtown-Winchester. Those are the West Baltimore neighborhoods that were at the center of the unrest following Freddie Gray’s funeral. But as Baltimore knows, the neighborhoods faced down regular incidents connected to violence, drugs and poverty that could cause trauma long before April, 2015.

The program, called ReCAST West Baltimore, aims to promote connectedness in youth and communities, and link the neighborhood with resources from bigger institutions.

Issues related to trauma will also be addressed in school. The U.S. Department of Education also awarded a $2.374 million grant to the school system that’s designed to help it coordinate with the city health department. Full-time mental health clinicians will also be hired at 13 schools in the three neighborhoods, as well as a manager and two full-time trainers.

“It is impossible to improve health in Baltimore without also addressing the significant trauma that exists as a result of structural discrimination, racism, poverty, and historical practices of exclusion. said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in a statement.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.