When we think of resources, innately money comes to mind, and while resources include money, they are not limited to money. A lack of services, such as adequate housing, quality education and affordable healthcare plague many under-resourced communities. Yet money, or the lack thereof, is the root cause of many of these issues. The financial disparities that exist within minority communities impact the residents physically, financially and mentally. A 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association found that money is the leading cause of stress among Americans—especially for parents, younger adults ages 18 to 49 years old and, not surprisingly, those living in lower-income households.
Alliance for Greater Works™ envisions a world without under-resourced communities. Our mission is to strengthen and position leaders and organizations to transform under-resourced communities. In an effort to fulfill this mission Alliance for Greater Works™ has partnered with the HOGG Foundation for Mental Health in the African American Faith-Based Mental Health Initiative. This initiative is comprised of ten churches, Bible Way Fellowship Baptist Church, Concord Church, Dallas City Temple Seventh-Day Adventist Church, God’s Way Christian Baptist Church, Greater Mt. Tabor Christian Center, Missouri City Baptist Church, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, The Potter’s House, Wheeler Ave Central City Comp Community Center, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, that have united to reduce the stigmas associated with mental health, as well as educate and equip churches to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
Programs like this are vital to the sustainability of a community and its ability to impact future generations. Mental health is an intricate component of creating and maintaining a healthy, whole community that is capable of thriving socially, economically and spiritually. In an effort to expose and educate churches about the importance of mental health, the AAFBMH Initiative is hosting the African American Faith-Based Mental Health Conference, themed Peeling Back the Layers, Tools for Healing the Hurt. This conference is FREE and will convene in Houston, TX on Saturday, September 17, 2016 and again on November 5, 2016 in Dallas, TX. Each of the ten churches, including pastors, licensed professional counselors and mental health physicians have participated in creating a conference that is filled with information, resources and practical tools that other churches can easily duplicate in their respective communities.
The opening session of this conference is titled, “The Role of the African American Church in Mental Health,” and the keynote speaker is Dr. David Williams of Harvard University. Dr. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as the Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University. He is recognized internationally as a leading social scientist focused on social influences on health. His research has shed light on the ways in which race, racism, socioeconomic status, stress, health behaviors and religious involvement can affect physical and mental health.
Following this opening session participants will choose from the following tracks, Mental Health and Justice, Heal the Healer, Youth and Clergy, to determine the sessions they will attend throughout the day. During the lunch hour, there will be a panel discussion, consisting of a pastor, community member and a mental health lived experience. The AAFBMH Initiative understands the significance in reducing the stigma associated with mental health in African American community and this conference is a concerted effort to educate, empower, dispel myths and equip churches, parents and professionals to better serve those in need.