Presenters and attendees of “Brothers, Can We Talk” gathered for a group photo. (Courtesy photo)

May is Mental Health and Awareness Month.  In the healthcare system, hypertension, prostate cancer and COVID-19 continue their assault on mental health in the Black community.

The dedicated professionals who treat these disorders are elite members of the Los Angeles African American medical community.  Three of these experts participated in the “Brothers Can We Talk” forum held on April 24, at Spa 313 Salon and Barbershop in Inglewood.

Men of all ages attended the free event to learn more about important health issues impacting Black males. Also, attendees received a swag bag, lunch and a free gift.

The following are the comments of three of the presenters.

Dr. Stanley Frencher, urologist, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital: “High blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer among Black people are some of the highest in the world. About 55% of Black adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. [Contributing] factors include lack of access to medication, distrust of health care providers based on historical discrimination, and lack of access to healthy foods.

“We [Black men] have got to take ownership. If you’re age 40-to-45, find a primary doctor, get screened, get a blood test, get a digital rectal exam and a risk assessment. The key is you cannot [achieve wellness] on your own.”

Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of Vaccines, Kedren Community Health Center:  “When the [Los Angeles County of Public Health] overlooked the Health Center in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, I pounded on doors until I got their attention.

“[Vaccines] are not the Tuskegee Trials [and] not experiments. They’re safe, effective and free to ages 5 and older. They’re for you!

“We’ve heard all the conspiracy theories. Do vaccines alter DNA? Do they affect male virility? Autism? We have found no relationship with [vaccines] and autism, death, or male virility.

“We’re living in an endemic [environment]. Outbreaks do happen, but with the aid of new procedures, we’re learning to live with it. There’s no reason to be afraid anymore.”

Charles Walker, licensed clinical social worker and therapist: “Winston Churchill said, ‘True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body — nourishment and refreshment.’ As a counselor, I’m committed to creating a safe place to address any issues you feel are holding you back from becoming the very best version of yourself.

“The process starts with an intake form, followed by a biopsychosocial assessment, or ‘What brings you here today?’ From there I’m able to identify childhood traumas, family history, abandonment issues, alcoholism, child abuse, etc.

“Black health and wellness begin with identifying stress levels, navigating through those stresses and behavior modification.”