By Crystal Mullen-Johnson
Mental Health care is an underutilized service in the African-American community. Transportation, poverty, mis-education and stigma can all be barriers for people accessing mental health treatment. Many individuals do not have coverage or lack understanding concerning their mental health benefits. With the increased suicide rates among kids from ages 10-14 years old and among African-American men, I realized the importance of implementing a community mental health awareness initiative, specifically for the City of Birmingham.
I have worked in the nonprofit community pertaining to the mental health industry for more than 16 years and recognized the disproportionate number of African-Americans seeking mental health treatment. The labels, myths and lack of knowledge about their mental illness develop a sense of shame, which ultimately leads them to not addressing their issue(s) on the surface.
It’s important for me to stay connected in my community as a private practitioner and to give back by educating and connecting individuals to affordable mental healthcare. By remaining connected, I can help navigate those searching for assistance to the various ways on how to access these resources.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Strive Counseling Services has partnered with the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services and the United Dreamers Foundation to host the inaugural “Community Mental Health Awareness Initiative” kickoff event on Saturday, May 18 at the Downtown Birmingham Public Library from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The kickoff event will launch the summer series of learning sessions that will be available the months of June through September and led by a panel of five.
- Nadia Richardson, founder, No More Martyrs
- Eliza Belle, licensed psychologist and certified forensic examiner
- Reggie A. Parker, Sr., MS, LPC, NCC, Parker Counseling & Consulting, LLC
- Veronica Johnson, MSCJ, JD, senior probation officer, Family Court of Jefferson County
- Courtney Nelson, director of Social Emotional Learning, Birmingham City Schools
I’m excited to also have Danny Carr, Jefferson County district attorney and Galvin Billups, executive director of the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services as guest keynote speakers.
The Alabama Department of Medicaid will be present as a resource vendor along with Oasis Counseling for Women and Children, Impact Family Counseling, WAR, YWCA of Central Alabama, Girls Inc. of Central Alabama and Recovery Resource Center to provide information about their services to all event attendees.
Registration is required. For registration details, please visit www.strivebhm.com.
Through this initiative, my hope is to play a role in changing the trajectory of mental health to help improve our community.
Let’s Strive together.
Crystal Mullen-Johnson, LICSW, PIP, RPT is owner, Strive Counseling Services