Many African Americans seek refuge and support from their church community to relieve mental illness and stress. On September 17, 2016, the African-American Faith-Based Mental Health Education Initiative (www.aafbmh.org) hosted the first of its kind conference themed, Peeling Back the Layers: Tools for Healing the Hurt in Houston, TX at Windsor Village United Methodist Church to nearly 300 faith and community leaders.

Peeling Back the Layers: Tools for Healing the Hurt will also be offered Saturday, November 5, 2016 at Concord Church, 6808 Pastor Bailey Drive, Dallas, TX where more than 400 participants are projected to attend. The mission of The African-American Faith-Based Mental Health Education Initiative is to increase the awareness and perceptions of mental health, recovery and wellness in African-American communities. In an effort to accomplish this, Peeling Back the Layers offers five distinctive tracks: Caregivers, Youth, Mental Health and Justice, Clergy and General, to meet the varying needs of those in attendance. In addition, guests are given an opportunity to hear personal testimonies that illuminate concerns that fall under mental health that many overlook in their own lives.

The highlight of the September 17 Houston conference was the keynote address, “The Role of the African-American Church in Mental Health,” presented by Dr. David R. Williams, the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. Dr. Williams masterfully described the life of the prophet Elijah, from the Bible, and his struggle with depression, as well as God’s response to the prophet’s struggle. The audience was not only inspired, but motivated to better equip themselves and those around them to address the mental health needs of the church, including church leadership. Dr. Williams will also be the keynote speaker in Dallas on November 5, so you don’t want to miss him.

Although one in four individuals will experience a mental health condition during his or her lifetime, research studies show that only half of African-American adults experiencing a mental health condition seek treatment. Thus, this conference provides a platform that exposes participants to information that dispel myths, increases awareness and creates a safe space to discuss and learn about mental health.

If you are local ministry and community leaders, middle and high school youth, licensed professional counselor, social worker or an individual who seeks to gain tools to live a healthy, whole life, join us in Dallas, TX on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at Concord Church. Check-in, exhibitors and continental breakfast starts at 8:00 a.m. and the program kicks-off at 9:00 a.m. The day will conclude at 3:00 p.m.

5.5 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be provided to licensed professional counselors and social workers for a $20 registration fee. The conference is filling up fast, so click here to register! For more information or to become an exhibitor, contact the Alliance for Greater Works at (817) 835-0271.

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