The Children’s Center of Wayne County will host a mental health town hall meeting Saturday to address the racial disparities, systemic racism and implicit bias that organizers say imperil Black youth in Detroit.
A Crisis to Connection: An Imperative for Our Black Boys, the inaugural series, will feature a panel of mental health professionals, childhood experts and community leaders to discuss methods and practices that can create pathways to success for Black youth in Detroit and Wayne County.
“This town hall is the first in series of discussions that will focus on issues important to the well-being of Black boys in Detroit,” said George Winn, chief operating officer for The Children’s Center, in a release. “It will be an engaging, interactive and community led discussion on mental health and will help guide how we reimagine and redesign the system to better serve Black boys.”
Founded in 1929, The Children’s Center serves nearly 7,500 children and their families with services including licensed psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who work with children who struggle with behavioral, emotional, educational and physical challenges, the organization said in an email to The Detroit News.
Founded as The Children’s Fund of Michigan, the organization was started by former Detroit Mayor James Couzens, who would later serve as a Republican U.S. senator from 1922–36.
Some of the implicit biases and systemic racism that affect Black youths are the over-diagnosis of conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and under diagnoses and lack of treatment for the trauma Black youth experience, the group said.
National data gathered by researchers in a 2022 study reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found males are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females, at 13% and 6%, respectively.
Black, non-Hispanic children and white, non-Hispanic children are more often diagnosed with ADHD, 12% and 10%, respectively, than Hispanic children at 8% and Asian, non-Hispanic children at 3%, with Black children leading in diagnoses, according to the CDC.
The group said it hopes to steer town hall discussions toward a framework that will offer strategies and provide resources to support the mental health and well-being of young black males through the age of 18.
“Black boys are disproportionately affected by implicit bias, systemic racism, and a lack of trauma-informed community support systems,” said Kevin Fischer, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Michigan. “As a mental health advocate, I see firsthand how trauma affects young Black boys development.”
Panelists and guests include:
- Andre Ash, digital anchor, Michigan Chronicle
- Lloyd Allen, assistant professor, Wayne State University School of Social Work
- Kevin Fischer, executive director, National Alliance on Mental Illness Michigan
- Waymond Hayes, director of early childhood, Focus: Hope
- Alyssa Heard, parent & deputy director, 482Forward
- Rev. Antoine Jackson, youth pastor, Greater Mitchell Temple COGIC
The program begins at 9:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. Saturday at the Focus: HOPE Conference Center at 1400 Oakman Blvd. on Detroit’s west side. Registration is requested and space is limited. Information on the event can be found here.
“Crisis To Connection will address these disparities with a philosophy that aligns beliefs, values, and actions using a trauma-informed and anti-racist framework,” Fischer said.