Antioch mental health symposium encourages black men to not fear seeking help

Dr. Lawrence Rasheed is flanked by members of G.R.I.O.T., while he speaks during the black men’s mental health symposium in Antioch, on Saturday, July 15, 2017. Photos by Andre Cummins

By John Crowder

On Saturday, July 15, Antioch’s Delta Bay Church of Christ was host to Tackling the Taboo II, a symposium on black male mental health.  Arranged by Dr. Lawrence Rasheed, the founder of the African-American male mentoring organization, G.R.I.O.T., the event featured the screening of the documentary, ‘Face of Darkness,’ followed by a panel discussion led by moderator Dr. Richard Hanzy.  A licensed Marriage Family Therapist with Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Hanzy asked each of the panelists questions related to their unique backgrounds in confronting mental health issues in the black male community.

Panelists included LeRon Barton, author of two book and numerous essays published in several print and online periodicals; Freddy Ford, Jr., a licensed Marriage Family Therapist in Solano County; Dr. Lamont Francies, Pastor of Delta Bay Church of Christ, educator, and school counselor; and Cornelius Johnson, retired San Francisco Police Department Captain.

Dr. Lamont Francies shares his thoughts as fellow panelist, retired San Francisco Police Captain Cornelius Johnson, listens on.

The speakers said that the issue of black male mental health is a topic that is rarely discussed in the African-American community, or in the community at-large. They also noted that black males rarely discuss their vulnerability, or seek help when dealing with issues of depression.  Reasons for this include the historical dynamic that portrays strong black men as men of strength, while a showing of emotion is perceived as a weakness. Black men, thus, have an aversion to being perceived as, ‘crazy,’ or ‘soft,’ and for this reason, often fail to seek help when dealing with emotional issues such as severe depression.  The sad result of this is that these men may suffer from despair which can lead ultimately to suicide.

The panelists emphasized the importance of changing the mindset of those suffering from depression to one where there is understanding that feelings of hopelessness and loss can face anyone, and it is not unmanly to seek help when such feelings occur.  In the case of black men who would be more likely to seek help from a peer, there are black male mental health experts available and ready to offer assistance.

The symposium kept the audience riveted throughout the presentation. Panelists took questions for almost an hour after the discussion between the panelists concluded.

Black men suffering from depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness were encouraged to contact Contra Costa Mental Health Services, toll free, at 1-888-678-7277, or NAMI Contra Costa, a charitable non-profit providing outreach, education, support, and advocacy to families and individuals in need of help at 925-942-0767.

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Symposium photo 2


Symposium photo final


One Comment to “Antioch mental health symposium encourages black men to not fear seeking help”

  1. Rjb says:

    Many of the crime supporters who comment here should also join to get help.

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