Kenneth Braswell, Terrie Williams address community healing (38704)
Kenneth Braswell, Terrie Williams address community healing (38703)

Kenneth Braswell, award-winning community activist, author and executive director of Fathers Incorporated (FI), has teamed up with the country’s leading experts on mental health and depression to host “Code Blue: A Call For Community Healing” on Friday, Nov. 16, at St. Paul Community Baptist Church, 859 Hendrix St. in Brooklyn, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. This community event is free and open to the public.

Co-chaired by Terrie M. Williams, best-selling author, award-winning community activist and national mental health advocate, FI’s “Code Blue: A Call for Community Healing” aims to examine the too-often taboo topics affecting the African-American family and community en masse: mental health and depression. The purpose is to create an open dialogue that brings together men, women, youth, faith-based institutions, resources and services.

“It’s time to talk,” said Braswell. “It has become clear the more and more we engage in responsible fatherhood work, that it is having a profound impact on our families, including their mental health. It’s time to address how the myriad of social ills we face are being perpetuated by our failing to initiate a serious community dialog.”

The recent alleged suicides of hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty and Soul Train legend Don Cornelius have brought national attention to the issue of mental health and depression among African-American men. Conversely, it cannot be ignored that many of the social ills experienced by Black men and fathers have an adverse impact on the mental health of both women and children.

“It is my personal mission to educate everyone, and in particular the African-Americans, about depression and its impact on our communities. Not knowing what depression looks like, feels like and sounds like is killing us,” says Williams. “Every day, we wear the ‘mask’ of wellness that seemingly hides our pain from the world. Now is the time to identify and name our pain–minus the myths and the stigma that are destroying our community. We need help, like yesterday.”

“The psyches of the Black man, woman and child weigh heavy with the atrocities borne by our ancestors and are alive through the injustices we experience in 2012: stop-and-frisk, elevated interest rates, cut-rate educational opportunities, substandard food choices in our communities–the list is endless,” states the Rev. David K. Brawley. “With these burdens to bear daily, there is little need to wonder why our mental health not only suffers, but spirals sadly out of control at times.

“As a community, we must collectively acknowledge where we are, why we are where we are and work together to bring about healing. That is why the ‘Code Blue’ forum is so important,” she said.

The crux of the program’s mission is to promote healing, examine the state of the family unit and create quality mental health awareness. Expert panelists to speak on “Faith, Family and Fatherhood” include Braswell; Williams; Dr. Janet Taylor of “The Jeremy Kyle Show”; Dr. Sidney Hankerson of New York State Psychiatric Institute; Dr. Jeff Gardere of “Love & Hip-Hop”; and Drs. Derek and Darcel Suite of Full Circle Life Enrichment Center.

Hosted by Brawley, senior pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church, the evening’s event will kick off in the spirit of gospel, with performances by the Empire Christian Center Praise Team. David Miller, co-founder of the Urban Leadership Institute, will serve as the program’s moderator.

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