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Baltimore’s trauma-informed care program wins national award

The Enoch Pratt Free Library. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)
Kaitlin Newman
The Baltimore Banner
The Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded Baltimore its Culture of Health Prize for the city’s work in the use of trauma-informed care to improve mental health.

The award is given to nine cities throughout the nation for “building a culture of health by using collaboration and interdependence; expertise and solutions held by people with lived experiences; trust, which breeds partnership; and the Black-led organizations and solutions to address health factors such as food security, climate resilience, and Black maternal health,” according to the foundation.

Baltimore will receive a $250,000 grant for the award.

The award-winning program comes from legislation introduced by Baltimore Councilman Zeke Cohen.

The government worked with local nonprofits like Healing City Baltimore to train city employees in trauma-informed care. Baltimore started with its library system where it set up a peer navigator program and peer advisory council.

In previous instances libraries would kick out people who were distressed or in crisis. Now, city employees can resource those people and help connect them to treatment for addiction, housing, job training and more.

“We have the capacity as humans to heal ourselves and others,” Cohen said. “That's why we're really proud to be teaching mindfulness and restorative practices in our parks, in our rec centers, in our libraries. We intend to train every city agency in this work.”

Peer navigators have worked with nearly 2,500 people across the city’s seven libraries. Baltimore plans on expanding the program in the coming years.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR. @smaucionewypr
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