NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University College of Public Service will hold a forum about mental health in the black community on Wednesday, February 26, on the Avon Williams Campus.
The event, CAN WE TALK? Black Mental Health Matters, will feature an exclusive screening of two short films directed by actor and filmmaker Koffi Siriboe, best known for his role as Ralph Angel in the TV series Queen Sugar. The two films, WTF is Mental Health? and JUMP, both take an intimate look at mental health in the black community.
A panel discussion will take place following the film to discuss the topic.
Andrea Word, a graduate student in the master of social work program in the TSU College of Public Service, will open the program by sharing a personal testimony. She says talking about mental health in the black community is often seen as taboo.
“We are still hesitant to go out and get help for mental illness or even to recognize what it is,” says Word, who works as a middle school teacher at Tennessee School For The Blind. “For many of those that go to church, it’s still taboo to mention it because they struggle with can God and a therapist function in the same space.”
Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and a nationally-syndicated columnist, says students determine which issues the college will address during its annual Black History Month program.
“Our events are important in that we want to serve the community,” says Harris.
“Working with our students on these programs helps us identify what is relevant, current and a match for Black History Month.”
The panel for the event will include: Dr. Keith Ekhator, social work coordinator for Metro Nashville Public Schools; Gwen Hamer, director of Education and Development for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Crystal Owens, mental health counselor for the Nashville Center for Trauma and Psychotherapy; and Reverend James Turner II, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church.
CAN WE TALK? Black Mental Health Matters begins at 6 p.m. in Room 354 on the TSU Avon Williams Campus.
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Tennessee State University
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.