Mary Lawal | NAMI

Mary Lawal

NAMI Next Gen

NAMI Next Gen

Meet Mary Lawal (she/her), a 22-year-old from Washington, DC, pursuing a psychology degree at Prince George's Community College. After experiencing stigmatization from her parents and the African American community, where mental health has always been made taboo and heavily stigmatized, Mary had to advocate for herself to receive treatment. She was able to do this by educating her parents that mental health does not discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of their cultural background or religious beliefs. From this point on, Mary became determined to advocate and debunk mental health stigma. She is an activist for youth mental health, including a volunteer at NAMI Baltimore, facilitating youth support groups and being an outspoken advocate. Mary has been on multiple panel discussions, such as The Sponsor Panel, to share her testimony with legislators at Annapolis for the bill funding of the 988 mental health and crisis hotline. She has also been invited to share her testimony at the United States Capitol for a congressional hearing on teen girls' mental health with congresswomen from the Democratic Women’s Caucus. Mary has not only started her own podcast, Journey with Maree, which addresses mental health topics but also leads a mental health awareness club, Elevated Minds Mental Health Initiative, on her college campus as the founder and president. In her free time, she loves swimming and listening to spoken words and poetry.

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