Mental Health Disparities in the African American Community: August 18-19 Conference in Cleveland Addresses the Issues, Offers Solutions
Cleveland made national headlines in April, when Steve Stephens randomly murdered Robert Godwin and posted video of the act to Facebook. When Stephens took his own life, at the end of a widely publicized two-day manhunt, that was the end of the story for many.
For mental health professionals, however, the story doesn’t end there and certainly didn’t begin just two days earlier. According to specialists, a long build-up frequently precedes seemingly sudden outbursts of violence. Yet America’s mental health system fails minorities, including African Americans like Stephens, more often than the population as a whole.
Health professionals have recognized this disparity for years, and identified various factors at work. Yvonka Hall of Cleveland hopes to facilitate bringing these strands of research together to produce practical solutions.
The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, which Hall leads, is presenting the “State of Mental Health Disparities in the African American Community Conference: The Case for Correcting Cultural Trauma,” August 18-19 at the Doubletree by Hilton, 3663 Park East Drive in Beachwood. “We saw the need for a comprehensive approach to the issues impacting the community as a whole,” says Hall.
Both trauma and cultural competency are among the factors which experts see disadvantaging the African American community. The University of Connecticut’s Center for Mental Health Disparities says that “many ethno-racial minorities experience cumulative experiences of racism as traumatic, with perhaps a minor event acting as ‘the last straw’ in triggering trauma reactions.” Yet many clinicians overlook the cumulative effect of ongoing racial discrimination.”
Hall says that the August conference will be an opportunity not only to catch up on these issues, but to do real work developing better responses. “The conference will examine the state of mental health disparities through historical documentation, systems exploration and personal testimonies,” she says.
“This conference is a unique blend of the issues but also includes solutions,” says Hall. A range of expert panelists and workshop presenters will join attendees in breakout sessions, to explore policy responses for every level, from local communities up to state and national programs.
Nationally recognized award-winning author Julius Bailey, Ph.D., will be part of the conference. Its line-up also includes Ohio state Senator Charleta B. Taveres, and the chair of Case Western Reserve University’s Bolton School of Nursing, Faye A. Gary, Ed.D, RN, FAAN. A community organizations panel discussion will feature the NAACP and groups from around the country.
The State of Mental Health Disparities in the African American Community Conference begins at noon on Friday, August 18, and continues on August 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (To book accommodations at a conference rate, guests may call the Doubletree at 216-464-5950.)
Conference registration is $100, which includes breakfast, lunch and program materials. Professional CEUs are also available in several fields. Guests can register online at mentalhealthdisparitiesconference.eventbrite.com or by mail; checks should be made to NEO Black Health Coalition, PO Box 221442, Beachwood, OH 44122.
For more information, call 216-295-0283 or visit neoblackhealthcoalition.org.
About Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition
NEO Black Health Coalition’s vision is to achieve health parity (equality) in the African American/Black population.
NEOBHC’s mission is to address disparities and inequities in education, employment housing, health and the impact on African American health disparities by working to empower, educate and advocate for under-served populations.
About Yvonka Hall
Yvonka Marie Hall is the Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. She is a nationally recognized health disparities expert and serves as an advisor to numerous organizations.
After the murders of her mother Yvonne in 1974, younger brother Antoine and best friend Tracey, she dedicated her life to working for the disenfranchised, creating cutting edge programs that have impacted thousands.
She served as Director of the Cleveland Office of Minority Health and the Northeast Ohio Director of Cultural Health Initiatives for the American Heart Association. She is a graduate of Texas Southern University and Notre Dame College of Ohio. She has the distinguished honor of being a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow.
Yvonka M. Hall, Executive Director
18115 Harvard Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44128