Hope In Harlem Highlights The Importance Of Mental Health Care In Harlem

May 11, 2023

The Harlem community is abuzz with excitement as the first annual Hope in Harlem conference approaches.

This groundbreaking event will bring together renowned mental health experts and community partners to share best practices on innovative mental health services that aim to bridge the gap in access to care in Harlem and the surrounding NYC area. The goal is to create a model for culturally inclusive, equitable mental healthcare for vulnerable populations, by building bridges between hospital-based services and trusted community organizations, like churches.

This not-to-be-missed conference will take place on Saturday, May 13, from 10 am to 1 pm, at the historic First Corinthians Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem. And if that’s not enough, the outdoor Wellness Street Fair will follow from 1 pm to 4 pm, featuring wellness-based activities, health screenings, insurance enrollment, networking, and entertainment.

Among the impressive lineup of keynote speakers are Tricia Hersey, Founder of the Nap Ministry and NYT Bestselling Author, U.S Representative Ritchie Torres, 15th Congressional District (Bronx), Anna Marie Sullivan, MD, Commissioner, NY State Office of Mental Health, Reverend Michael Walrond, Jr, Senior Pastor, First Corinthians Baptist Church, Sidney Hankerson, MD, MBA, Director of Mental Health Equity Research, Mount Sinai, and Lena Green, DSW, LCSW, Executive Director, HOPE Center.

The event is centered around a new model of mental healthcare, which relies on trusted community organizations, like churches, to provide care that is not directly tied to healthcare systems. The historic First Corinthians Baptist Church is one such trusted institution, with a mental health clinic embedded within its walls. Mount Sinai’s Dr. Sidney Hankerson, one of the three key organizers of this event, has conducted extensive research on the feasibility of screening for depression in the church, the relationship between religiosity and the utilization of professional health services among African Americans, underutilization of mental health treatment by African American men, and ministers’ perceptions about depression and the viability of using the church to implement evidence-based assessments and psychotherapy for depression.

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This groundbreaking conference is a testament to the dedication of leading experts like Dr. Sidney Hankerson, Senior Pastor “Mike” Walrond, and Dr. Lena Green, who have come together to create a model for church-affiliated mental health clinics that can be replicated nationwide. With depression and other mental health concerns on the rise in the Black community, particularly among Black men, this innovative model of care couldn’t come at a better time.

The Hope in Harlem conference promises to be a one-of-a-kind event that offers attendees an opportunity to learn, network, and experience a new vision for culturally inclusive, equitable mental healthcare.

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