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Black Mental Health Matters

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The Egan Office at DePaul hosts a quarterly speaker series called “Chicago Mosaics.” On March 6, the topic was “Black Mental Health Matters,” and featured exceptional COE faculty members. COE professors Dr. Darrick Tovar-Murray, Dr. Deanna Burgess, and Dr. Autumn Cabell were invited to serve as panelists. The event was well-attended and positively received by DePaul students, alumni, faculty, and community members. The speaker series began with an educational discussion between the three COE panelists and was followed by an open Q & A. “We were able to engage in a rich discussion about the importance of Black mental health and the ways in which we promote Black mental health in our respective work,” Dr. Burgess explained.

Participants of the event gained a heightened awareness of the importance of addressing mental health within the Black community and walked away with resources for Black Americans to receive counseling services, according to Dr. Cabell. Black individuals are underrepresented in mental health settings and attendees learned about the numerous factors that contribute to this disparity. Stigma about and reluctance towards mental health within this community can be attributed to the transgenerational trauma endured since the time of slavery, a history of medical abuse, racism in mental health settings, and the lack of adequate resources awarded to Black communities.

Dr. Burgess emphasized that the Black community in America has a “rich history of surviving and thriving” in the face of oppression and racism. By celebrating the ways in which Black communities have promoted mental health throughout history, mental health professionals will be better equipped to incorporate relevant strategies when providing treatment. Dr. Tovar-Murray highlighted the importance of living in the upper ways of Black ancestors who came before and the power and interconnectedness that comes from community. This event created awareness for students, educators, and community members in recognizing that there is so much that they do not yet know.

“Black Mental Health Matters” was an opportunity for education and healing. Dr. Tovar-Murray believes there is hope and momentum for another event on this topic in the future.