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Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day Town Hall
On April 30, 2019, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) established the Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health (the Taskforce), with Rep. Watson Coleman as the chair. The Taskforce empowered a working group of leading Black academic, research, advocacy, and practice experts to offer thoughtful solutions to address the alarming rates of suicide among black youth (Ring the Alarm: the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America). In 2022, Silence the Shame sought a resolution to designate May 1st as Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to bring attention to the growing risk factors and social determinants of health that exacerbate the mental health of Black children in Georgia. On the back of Stress Awareness Month and commencement of Mental Health Awareness Month, May 1st will engage communities to share relevant data. STS will observe this day by (1) Increasing awareness of risk factors and challenges unique to Black youth to reduce stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness and (2) offering prevention and intervention strategies to support healthier outcomes.

Additionally, research about suicidal behaviors has raised questions about whether the path from suicidal thoughts to attempts is well understood in Black youth and whether we have the knowledge and tools to intervene before a crisis emerges. Therefore, this day will advocate for funding for culturally represented scientists, researchers, and practitioners interested in studying these issues to guide interventions and policies for Black communities and address disparities that affect Black youth.

Join us on May 2 for a Community Conversation to commemorate the first-annual recognition of Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.


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Shanti Das
Founder and CEO @Silence the Shame
Shanti Das is an accomplished entertainment industry veteran, speaker, author, and philanthropist. Shanti worked in the entertainment business for over 25 years. Her music industry career (from intern to Executive Vice President) included positions at Capitol Records, LaFace Records, Columbia Records, Sony Urban Music and Universal Motown where she worked directly with some of music’s top talent like OutKast, Usher, Prince, TLC, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu, and more. As a result of Shanti’s extensive community work in the 2000 decade, she decided to establish her very own nonprofit, The Hip-Hop Professional Foundation, Inc. The foundation was rebranded under the name Silence the Shame, Inc., the mental health movement that lead the way since 2016.
Brandon J. Johnson, M.H.S., MCHES
Subject Matter Expert @AAKOMA Project
Brandon Johnson is a tireless advocate for positive mental health and suicide prevention services for youth and adults. He is a subject matter expert in suicide prevention, with a particular focus on suicide prevention planning and suicide prevention strategies for Black youth. He currently serves as a subject matter expert for the AAKOMA Project, a non-profit working to improve the mental health of BIPOC youth and young adults. Brandon earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Morgan State University in 2008 and a Master of Health Science Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. In 2020, Brandon earned the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) credential from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Brandon is the creator of “The Black Mental Wellness Lounge,” a YouTube channel dedicated to discussing Black mental health and healing. He also serves as Co-Lead of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Faith Communities Task Force.
Dr. Le’Roy Reese
Director of Behavioral Health @Akoma Counseling & Consulting, Inc
Dr. Reese is an associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine where he is Director of the Smart and Secure Children Parent Leadership program within the Kennedy Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity. Dr. Reese co-directs the Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Core within MSM’s Clinical Research Center. Dr. Reese is also a Senior Advisor to Ichor Strategies, a New York based public affair consultancy where he assists their client engagement efforts and is helping to develop their healthcare practice. Previously, Dr. Reese was a senior scientist and section chief at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A widely published author, he served as a member of the Task Force of the American Psychological Association that produced the report Resilience and Strength in African American Children and Adolescents and he co-edited a commonly used prevention text book, Realizing Social Justice: The Challenge of Preventive Interventions.
Brittney Newton, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst @Voices for Georgia' Children
Passionate about reducing health disparities, Brittney studies policy solutions that can impact the greatest number of people at once, most especially vulnerable populations. She is currently focused on trauma and how it impacts families and communities. She conducts research and analyzes data to inform our advocacy efforts and support our policy agenda. Prior to joining Voices she was the Director of Voices for Prevention, a statewide advocacy network for substance abuse prevention. There she spearheaded evidence-based educational and networking opportunities to empower community members and key stakeholders in substance abuse prevention best practices and advocacy tactics. Brittney has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Spelman College, and earned her Masters of Public Health from Morehouse School of Medicine. She serves on the boards of the Georgia Alcohol Policy Alliance and Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse.
Trebor Randle
Special Agent in Charge (Retired) @Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Agent Randle began her law enforcement career more than 27 years ago as a Deputy Marshal in Muscogee County, Georgia. In 1995, Agent Randle was hired as a Narcotics Agent with the GBI. Throughout her career with the GBI Agent Randle has been promoted through the sworn ranks from Narcotics Agent to the position of Special Agent and later Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Region 3 field office located in Americus, Georgia. During her career, Agent Randle specialized in the field of child abuse and crimes against the elderly. In July 2014, Agent Randle was promoted to the rank of Special Agent in Charge of the Child Fatality Review Unit where she is currently assigned to oversee the work of the State Child Fatality Review Panel. These duties include traveling throughout the state of and the country raising awareness of issues that confront our youth. More importantly lecturing on prevention strategies as it relates to preventing deaths of children.
Takeysha Lewis
Member at Large @Jack & Jill of America Inc., Southeastern Region
Takeysha Lewis serves as a member of the Jack and Jill of America Foundation Board of Directors where she serves as Co-Chair of the Program Committee and on the HBCU Committee. She strives to ensure that service projects flourish with the overall goal of exposing our moms, children, and teens with opportunities to ensure that we continue to be well equipped to make an impact on the world around us, and beyond- through service and philanthropy. With over 20 years of professional experience in Social Work, MAL Takeysha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW) from Fort Valley State University, as well as graduate degrees, Masters Social Work (MSW) and an Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, both from Valdosta State University. She currently serves on boards and committees in her community which are all dedicated to eliminating barriers and supporting families in reaching their full potential.