Tennessee non-profit promotes mental health awareness during Black History Month

Tennessee non-profit focuses on access to mental health services

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - February is Black History Month and one Tennessee non-profit is spending the entire month focusing on mental health awareness for the African American community.

The non-profit mental health support service Tennessee Voices is celebrating Black History Month by posting different spotlights and profiles on social media and on their website of Black Americans who have made an impact on the mental health community.

“One in particular that I’ll be doing this week that I’m excited about is highlighting Dr. Francis Sumner, known as the Black father of psychology,” said Tennessee Voices Chief Operating Officer Will Voss.

Voss says this campaign is made more critical because of an on-going mental health crisis among many Black communities.

“Also making sure that we’re educating those in the Black community about the importance of mental health,” said Voss. “We recognize that mental health doesn’t discriminate. It affects us all.”

According to the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Black Americans ages 15-24.

Voss says some Black people don’t get help when they need it because of health care inequities, socioeconomic factors and also a challenging stigma among some African Americans surrounding mental health support.

“It’s seen as a sign of weakness but I want others to realize that recognizing that something’s going on and something’s different, it’s a sign of strength when you’re trying to get that help that is needed,” said Voss.

Voss says we can help the problem by talking more openly and honestly about mental health.

“I think the biggest thing that can be done or should be done is education,” said Voss. “Education is key. But you have to know about the signs and symptoms. Someone could be experiencing something and not know exactly what is wrong with them.”

If you or someone you know is struggling and could use help, you can call 1-800-670-9882 or you find help by going to their website at https://tnvoices.org/.

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