Symposium Overview

This symposium will allow professionals and students to engage in an open discussion on the stigma surrounding mental illness in the black community specifically how we can educate ourselves on the types of mental illnesses. Participants will gain a clear understanding of the negative stigmas and ways to reduce the stigma while creating a safe environment that allows for the exploration of thoughts, feelings and fears. In order to address mental illness in the Black community, professionals and students in the field need to create more awareness by taking the lead and starting discussions around this topic.

The topic of mental illness in the Black community is a discussion that is often ignored. “According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” (African American Mental Health. National Alliance on Mental Illness).

Many African Americans are reluctant to discuss mental illness and/or seek treatment because of the shame and stigma
associated with such. As a result, individuals in the black community often choose to suffer in silence rather than
acknowledging the issues. The lack of knowledge leads many to believe that mental illness is a personal weakness. Some reasons that prevent African-Americans from seeking treatment and receiving quality care include:
  • Lack of information and misunderstanding about mental health
  • Faith, spirituality and community
  • Reluctance and inability to access mental health services
  • Medications
  • Provider bias and inequality of care


Elena C. Moore, MSW Student
1st Vice-President, NABSW Office of Student Affairs
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio


Patrick Crawford, LCSW
President/CEO, Crawford Consulting and Mental Health Services, Inc.
Washington, DC

Rwenshaun Miller, MA
Founder/Executive Director, Eustress, Inc.
Charlotte, NC

Thekima Mayasa
Professor, Department Chair, Black Studies Department at San Diego Mesa College
San Diego, CA

Ronnie Sidney, MSW, LCSW

Founder, Creative Medicine: Healing Through Words, LLC.
Tappahannock, VA