Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma around Mental Health Issues

Handshake with words

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.


Episode 3: Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma around Mental Health Issues

The January podcast focused on AMEN partners that provide programs and events to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health issues. Jacki Hecht, RN, MSN, Managing Director of the AMEN program at the UT Austin School of Nursing was joined by Christina Smith, LCSW, Social Worker at Integral Care and Kimberly Holiday, “Lady Joy”, Marketing Outreach Chair for the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference.

[I]n the African American community . . . we are taught from an early age to kind of keep what happens in the home to ourselves or in the home.” Christine Smith

“Often times clients don’t want to be associated with schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder . . . . [M]ost people at some point in their lives will experience some sort of mental health crisis. In fact, 1 in 5 adults and . . . children have a diagnosable mental health diagnosis.” Christine Smith

Christina Smith discussed the Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RA1SE) Program which helps people ages 15-30 who have experienced their first episode of psychosis within the past 2 years. Psychosis can include hearing or seeing things others don’t, or feeling that someone can control your thoughts. The program provides counselors, skill trainers, identified family partners, peer supporters, prescribers and an education and employment specialists to help clients with relationships, school, work and life goals; services include alcohol and drug use recovery skills, family education, suicide prevention, medicine and primary/mental health care. Integral Care provides many more services for youth and adults to build health and well-being so that everyone has the foundation to reach their full potential. For more information visit Integral Care: State Health Leaders Expanding Early Psychosis Treatment Programs.

Kimberly Holiday, “Lady Joy” informed the community about the 20th anniversary of the Annual Central Texas Family Support Conference that took place on February 11 and 12th at the Palmer Events Center. The two-day experience featured keynote speakers, interactive workshops, vendor exhibits, poster sessions and more. There was a vibrant mix of formal presentations, testimonials, discussion groups and informal networking among diverse sectors of the community. This event provided the opportunity for community members to interact with community organizations, faith-based programs, academics, and clinical services and gather recent information and updated resources that help to address mental health and resilience. 


Learn more about AMEN podcast and check out other episodes!

Jan. 13, 2020