March 9th, 2020

A National Women’s History Month
Salute to the “DIVAS” of the Nation’s Capital and beyond!

M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates is sending out a well-deserved “salute”, in honor of National Women’s History Month and on behalf of the many brave and unacknowledged women, mothers, grandmothers, and our affectionately called, “DIVAS” residing and working in neighborhoods and communities across the Nation’s Capital, where crime is rapid, and the prevalence of gun violence Is a numbingly and seemingly daily reality.

Our “she-ras” who are raising families, managing levels of responsibility and stress, sacrificing their own mental health and peace of mind while challenged with living in fear and simultaneously rearing our children.  Our children who are our future leaders and the unfortunate beneficiaries of our poor accountabilities and lack luster expressions of empathy as a “nation”, are being reared in and around barrages of gunfire and other violently executed crimes day in and day out across the District.

The Washington D.C. area appears to be off to another year of “deadly” statistics, with nearly 30 homicides already occurring three months into the year, in which there are still over 20 days left in the month of March.  The state of mental health resources and services in heavily ridden crime areas and neighborhoods across the District is atrocious.  The mental health statistics in Washington D.C. alone, as reported in the Journal of Urban Design & Mental Health;2019:6indicates that approximately 102,000 people have some form of mental illness in the District.  Additionally, D.C. ranks as the worst in terms of abuse of dependence on illicit drugs or alcohol, coming in 51st  place (last).  It is also important to note that this very comprehensive report was based on voluntary data and thus consideration must be given for the many members of the community who chose not to disclose their information due to the apparent stigma associated with mental health.

To further understand and appreciate the need  for “extra” mental health awareness during this National “Women’s History Month” is to understand the following Washington, D.C. alarming statistics and realities:

  • approximately 16% of the residents residing in Wards 1-4 of the District have reported being diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
  • 25% of the residents in Ward 8 reported having been diagnosed which is the highest overall.
  • Ward 7 & 8 is over 90% Black and represents the highest rates of adults in the District, who were diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
  • 35% of Ward 8 residents  & 26% of Ward 7 residents live in poverty in contrast to 6.9% in

Ward 3 & 9.9% in Ward 4.

  • Residents living in wards 2,5,7, & 8 report feeling less safe in their neighborhoods during the day; residents in Ward 8 feel the least safe, with 44% reported feeling safe during the day and only 15% felt safe in their neighborhoods at night.

DC  Department of Health, 2015.

  • Adults living in Wards 7 & 8 in the District who are predominantly low-income and African American, experience higher rates of mental health problems compared with the rest of the District.

Barriers to Mental Health Treatment Utilization in Wards 7 & 8 in 

Wash., D.C.:

A Qualitative Pilot Study: Ollie Ganz, Laurel E. Curry, & Monique M. Turner

As we celebrate National Women’s History Month, M.I. Mother’s Keeper wishes to shine the spotlight on the strength and resilience of the inner-city women who in the face of broken communities, government, and a nation rise to the occasion in spite of the documented barriers for proper health, safety, & other vital resources that go unnoticed and unchecked daily in their communities and in the neighborhoods in which they live.  These “DIVAS”, our “diagnosed & undiagnosed” treasures often time are stretching resources of a modest means to provide a satisfactory home structure for children and families who are living under siege daily from the violence and dismissive nature in which their health and safety needs are being mishandled, ill-managed, and not prioritized during this administration and at the dismay of “puppet-like” law making, budget, and resource implementation for families that are in desperate need of mental health resources and care in the District.

This National Women’s History Month M.I. Mother’s Keeper is saluting such pioneering women as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, and the many other strong and beautiful women throughout history who led with their hearts.  The nurturing and determined spirit in that of our ancestors and foremothers is present and visible today as we observe and pay homage to our “inner-city women” & “DIVAS”.

M.I. Mother’s Keeper offers women’s support and empowerment “peer to peer” guidance, coaching and support groups to help our women, our DIVAS. to talk about and develop a plan for addressing the levels of stress, trauma, mental health exposures & challenges that many women discreetly and silently deal with daily, despite their ongoing responsibilities to family, work, community, and themselves.  M.I. Mother’s Keeper is concerned with the need to help keep our women healthy, especially our urban, inner-city women whose lifestyles and routines may not include opportunities or habits for doing so.  Our organization knows the value and importance of empowering our DIVAS in order that they can remain vigilant with helping to keep our communities, children, schools, and themselves, safe and stable.

ForbesWomen states that “forty-nine percent of employed women in the United States, including 42% of working mothers, say they are their family’s main breadwinner.”  In addition to childcare the article indicates that women are also much more likely to be the ones who care for sick or elderly family members, which is typically the case in African American households across the District.  Furthermore, aside from negative financial and career ramifications women are also more stressed and have less time for self-care as also noted in the article, which goes on to further state that “while things are still pretty dire for many women, especially women of color & low-income means, all is not lost.”  Maggie Germano the article’s author concludes that we should make it clear just how important this issue is to us and to other women everywhere.

As this is National Women’s History Month  M. I. Mother’s Keeper is calling on “All DIVAS”, and especially our inner-city women to embrace their challenges and to commit to strengthening their support systems.  M.I. Mother’s Keeper is asking our women across the D.M.V. and especially those residing and working in our inner-city to commit to having a mental health “check-up” today.  Additionally, M.I. Mother’s Keeper is asking our DIVAS to stand with us as we “demand” more mental health resources, funding, culturally appropriate programming and advocacy for communities and families where crime and gun violence dictate their social, home, and schooling environments and fear and dysfunction override “calm” daily.

Please support the M.I. Mother’s Keeper organization as we continue to advocate for families of mental health and raise awareness for the apparent lack of resources and the declined standard of mental health care in the Nation’s Capital.  Join us as we advocate for guaranteed programs & outreach funding, accountability, and advocacy for families, children, and mothers across the District. Our DIVAS matter!

Our children matter!  Our communities & families matter! The Violence matters!   Mental Health matters!  Election season is among us here in D.C. and we must not settle for more of the same!  It is imperative that we empower our women and our families to speak out against that which bounds them.  Our communities, our children, and especially the women who are spearheading “heads of household” realities and mental health challenges and exposures with no real comprehensive plan for care and true relief are hurting. Enough is enough! Every Night Under Fire & Fear! E.N.U.F.F.


Rhonda L. Hamilton, Executive Director 3/9/2020