African Americans: Facing Mental Illness, Experiencing Recovery | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Posted on July 27, 2004

Arlington, VA — African Americans face unique challenges in confronting mental illness and finding paths to recovery, which will be the focus of a symposium organized by NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) on September 8, 2004, in Washington, D.C.

"The symposium is of importance not only to African Americans, but to every community," said Maria-Jose Carrasco, director of NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center (MAC). "No matter what a person’s race, color or ethnic heritage, we all are at risk from the fragmentation, cultural incompetence, and other inadequacies in the nation’s mental health care system. To achieve reform, we must understand each other’s needs."

Olympic gold medalist (1996) Derrick Adkins will provide testimony that "Recovery is Possible." Presidents of national organizations and other African American community leaders participating in the symposium include:

  • Dr. Glora Pitts, president, Black Psychiatrists of America
  • Dr. Donna Barnes, President of the National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide
  • King Davis, Ph.D., president of the African American Leadership Council and director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
  • Dr. Michelle Clark, Chair, Black Psychiatrist Committee, American Psychiatry Association
  • Dr. Rahn Bailey, director, Law & Psychiatry section of the National Medical Association
  • Arthur Evans, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health, Connecticut
  • Frances Priester, director of the Office of Consumer & Family Affairs, District of Columbia Department of Mental Health
  • Dr. William Lawson, Chair, Howard University Department of Psychiatry
  • Joe Powel, Executive Director, Association for Persons Affected by Addictions (Dallas, Texas)

The symposium will coincide with NAMI’s annual convention on September 8-12. Featured speakers also will include NAMI leaders from California, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Symposium topics include:

  • Access to Culturally Competent Mental Health Services
  • African Americans and Suicide
  • Criminalization of African Americans with Mental Illness
  • Dual Diagnosis: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
  • The Experience of Trauma in the African American Community
  • Greater Hope: An African American Perspective
  • Historical and Mental Health Perspectives of the African-American Community
  • Research Updates and Culturally Proficient Treatment
  • Voices of Recovery: African American Families Speak Out


This is a unique opportunity, at a single event, to meet leading African American experts and individuals with personal stories about mental illness.


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