• Beth Perdue

Panel: How racism affects the mental health of Black Americans

A NAMI panel discussion on Saturday will look at the unique mental health consequences of racism and otherism on Black Americans.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness is putting on the event which will feature five mental health professionals discussing racism and the factors that contribute to mental health trauma.


In a statement in May, NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. called racism a public health crisis and said its impact on Black Americans is real and can’t be ignored.


“The disparity in access to mental health care in communities of color cannot be ignored. The inequality and lack of cultural competency in mental health treatment cannot be ignored,” he stated, adding, “Our nation’s African American community is going through an extremely painful experience, pain that has been inflicted upon this community repeatedly throughout history and is magnified by mass media and repeated deaths.”


Community-based nonprofit Mental Health America also asserts the impact of racial trauma on mental health, defining the term as, “the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes.”


“Experiences of race-based discrimination,” the organization said on its website, “can have detrimental psychological impacts on individuals and their wider communities.”


Saturday’s panelists, including moderator Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney, will discuss factors that contribute to trauma such as access to healthcare, workplace discrimination and bullying, systemic racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and issues related to women of color, according to a program description.


Panelists will also discuss the importance of barbershops to the mental health and wellbeing of Black men.


Dr. Pinckney is on the NAMI MASSS Board of Directors and is chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Awareness (I.D.E.A.) Committee. She is also the regional commissioner & chair of the Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women.


Other panelists include:


Dr. Mathieu Bermingham, psychiatrist and president of NAMI Mass Board of Trustees;

Sgt. Din Jenkins, MS, Stoughton PD Training/administrative sergeant Metro-LEC crisis negotiator -Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (METROLEC), and president & CEO, chief facilitator & collaborator at Supply The Why;

Venita Chaney Qualls M.M., M.Ed, LMHC, LADC1, CADC, ICADC, psychotherapist/trauma specialist and CEO of Soulful Essentials, Inc., a mental health consulting agency, and The Comfort Zone, Inc., a 501 c 3 nonprofit; and,

Roy J. Lynch LMHC, NAMI Mass Board of Directors and mental health clinician.


The virtual event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. To attend, register here.



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