SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)
Annual People of Color Mental Health Conference
Developed in 2002, the Annual People of Color Mental Health Conference is an event sponsored by the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Delaware with the goal of providing information on mental health, particularly related to people of color, and where the stigma associated with mental illnesses can be addressed.
According to Conference Chair and Program Manager for MHA, Paul Galonsky, and in relation to national averages, 3,600 African Americans in the City of Wilmington, Delaware, experience symptoms of depression in any given year. However, many of these individuals never receive treatment due to myths and stigma associated with mental illness.
Six years ago, Mr. Galonsky became keenly aware of the important issues related to mental health, mental illness, stigma, and access to treatment in the African-American community. As a result, the idea of an annual conference to provide education and awareness of mental health issues as they relate to people of color was born. He began assembling a group of professionals and mental health consumers from the African-American community in Wilmington, Delaware, who were willing to devote their time on a monthly basis to plan for the conference.
These individuals provided the framework for the conferences, including the objectives and topics that needed to be addressed and have become the planning committee for each conference.
To date, six conferences have been offered that addressed the following themes:
- Approaching Mental Health through Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Overcoming Stigma through Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Effective Intervention through Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Embracing Our Mental Health through Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Celebrating Five Years of Mental Health Education through Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Bending & Mending: Conversations for Better Mental Health through Mind, Body, and Spirit
Since the first conference, the event has grown rapidly. In addition to providing a full day of educational experience with a nationally recognized keynote presenter, break-out workshops, and a host of human service exhibits with giveaways; a second conference similar to the Annual People of Color Mental Health Conference is now being offered in Southern Delaware through the partnership between Delaware State University and MHA.
More than 1,500 individuals have participated in the conferences, including close to 300 in the 2007 conference held in November.
Analyses of the conferences are conducted via a participant survey, which is used to determine the success of the conference program by measuring participant feedback in the following areas: satisfaction with the presentations and materials provided; the clarity and usefulness of the information presented; and changes in attitude and behavior. In addition, MHA measures participant feedback on their ability to use the knowledge and skills developed through the Annual People of Color Mental Health Conference.
Evaluation data from the conferences have indicated that participants rate guest speakers' presentations as highly effective and that participants would be able to utilize the knowledge and skills developed through the conference.
The Annual People of Color Mental Health Conferences have contributed to the success and credibility of the MHA in Delaware, and have given the opportunity for individuals of color to gain greater understanding of the complexities of mental illness and to combat the stigma that is associated with mental illness.
For additional information about the Annual People of Color Mental Health Conference, you may contact Paul Galonsky, Program Manager of Community Outreach Programs at the Mental Health Association in Delaware via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 302-654-6833. You can learn more about their most recent conference, held in November of 2011 through their website: www.mhainde.org/nCMHC.asp.