In celebration of Black History Month, The Guidance Center would like to recognize several of the leaders who serve as activists for the importance of mental health. Communities of color, including children, experience unique obstacles in accessing mental health care services. We are inspired by these individuals who have a passion for spreading awareness and combating the stigma on mental health.
Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark
“….a crucial part of children’s lives, no matter what happens, has to be a degree of security and acceptance”
Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark is the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University. While in school, she realized the absence of psychological services accessible to the African American community and other minorities. Her passion for this sparked the idea for her to open an agency that provided comprehensive psychological services to the disadvantaged, African Americans, and other minority children and families. She devoted herself for over 30 years to a center that she and her husband opened which offered counseling and other psychological services to communities in Harlem, New York. Read more about her story here.
Paul Bertau Cornely, M.D., DrPH
Paul Bertau Cornely was a public health and civil rights activist and researcher. His work focused on the development of public health initiatives that were directed toward reducing healthcare disparities among underserved populations. During the times of civil rights movements, he focused his efforts to desegregate health facilities across the country so everyone had equal rights to the same high quality of care.
Barbara Stroud, Ph.D.
Dr. Barbara Stroud is a licensed clinical psychologist, ZERO TO THREE Graduate Fellow, an infant mental health specialist, author, and a private trainer and consultant. She has over 20 years of experience providing training in early childhood, child development, and mental health. For more than 15 years, Dr. Stroud has worked with severely emotional disturbed children in urban communities. She is a proud activist regarding the unique needs of children of color in the mental health and foster care systems. Read more about her here and check out her latest book, “Intentional Living: Finding the Inner Peace to Create Successful Relationships” here.
Metta World Peace
“People go through stuff for all different sorts of reasons, we don’t know why. With that being said, when you’re trying to gain balance, you got to commend that.”
After winning his first NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, Metta World Peace, also known as Ronald Artest, made headlines for thanking his psychologist for the triumph. “I’d like to thank my psychiatrist, Dr. Santhi. She really helped me relax.” Since then, he has continued to be an advocate for mental health. He auctioned off his championship ring to raise over $650,000 to go to mental health causes. Metta has shared his struggles with school-aged children, sharing the problems he faced growing up and how they affected him. In opening up to and confiding in them, he hopes to encourage them to ask for and get help if they need it. In his advocacy, he aims to influence youth to live honestly and not be ashamed of their struggles. Click here to hear him speak about how the cause is close to his heart.
Nikki Webber Allen
“Having feelings isn’t a sign of weakness — they mean we’re human”
Nikki Webber Allen describes herself as a dreamer, storyteller, and relentless optimist. Most notably and recently, she is the founder and president of I Live For – a recently founded organization “committed to ending the cultural stigma of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders in teenagers and young adults of color. Using short films, live events and social media to inform, inspire and connect, iLF… creates a safe space for honest, unapologetic conversations about mental health in our communities”. In 2013, Webber Allen lost her nephew, Paul, to suicide after years of struggle with depression and anxiety. Since then, she has become a passionate mental health advocate. I Live For is in Paul’s memory. She also has a documentary in the works that will showcase a diverse group of young men and women who reject the stigma of mental illness and share candid stories about themselves. Click here to watch her Ted Talk on her own mental health struggles.
At The Guidance Center, we believe everyone deserves the right to access mental health care and deserves healing. For more information including statistics, unique issues, and resources, please visit The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ page on African American Mental Health.