The conference offers information, resources and inspiration to confront the challenge of mental health issues in the Black community.
Mental health -- a widespread issue that affects all levels of society, yet remains still very much a taboo topic.
On Saturday, May 5, Rev. Anthony L. Trufant and The Turning Point Counseling Ministry of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Brooklyn will be bringing the topic to the forefront with the daylong conference "Let's Talk Mental Health: Mine, Yours, and Ours." The event, that is free and open to the public, will feature a keynote address by mental health expert Dr. Yvette Sealy and a conversation with actress Jill Marie Jones, who portrayed "Toni Childs" on the sitcom "Girlfriends," about mental health issues in the Black community.
"The conference aims to equip the church and the community with information, resources and inspiration to confront the challenge of dealing with mental health issues in the Black community," says Emmanuel Baptist Church Senior Pastor Trufant. "More specifically, the intent is to teach participants how to access the broad range of resources New York City makes available to families and individuals wrestling with mental health challenges."
The conference will begin with morning devotional and welcome remarks from Rev. Trufant and local elected officials. In her keynote address, Dr. Sealy will discuss the importance of recognizing and obtaining treatment for mental health issues, followed by panel discussions and workshop sessions for adults and an open forum for youth ages 12-18.
The workshops and talks will be facilitated by an array of mental health professionals including psychologist Dr. Seth Langley of SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Liza Bowers of NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Ava Gayle of ThriveNYC; Dr. Claire Greene-Forde of NYC Department of Probation; Cheryl Donald of Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC; Dr. Gail Brightwell and Eric Pierre of NYC Department of Education, among others.
Emmanuel Baptist Church is taking the lead in addressing an issue that many Black families are hesitant to admit to because of misinformation and stigma. Rev. Trufant notes that Emmanuel specifically established the Turning Point Counseling Ministry to provide a resource at a time when it is most needed.
"Many people have been highly critical about how churches in general and Black churches, in particular, fail to engage the everyday issues of how people deal with mental health," Trufant says. "To some degree, the criticism is warranted. However, Emmanuel is providing the public with practical and conceptual tools, which can be of help to those who are struggling with mental illness and those who support family and friends who struggle with such issues."
The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is available online. On-site registration begins at 9:20am.
"Let's Talk Mental Health: Mine, Yours, and Ours"
When: Saturday, May 5, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Where: Emmanuel Baptist Church, 279 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238.