“What’s On Your Mind” aims to address mental health issues affecting individuals, families and the community. The free forum, sponsored by the nonprofit, Lifting The Veil, Inc., Carson Mayor Pro Tem Cedric Hicks and the city of Carson, takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., in Carson. Free continental breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.
Co-sponsors include Drew Child Development Corporation, L.A. County Probation Department, Bulletin Displays LLC, Wayfinders (formerly the Junior Blind of America), Phillips 66, Antioch University and Choura Venue Services.
“The purpose of this event is to disprove the myths and tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. We believe in empowerment through education, so we developed this forum to inform people about this important issue,” said the Rev. Byron L. Smith, founder of Lifting The Veil, Inc., a nonprofit organization, and pastor of Lifting The Veil Christian Community Church .
Discussion topics include the implicit and explicit mental health biases in communities, the effects of marijuana on the brain development of young people, and healthy coping mechanisms to deal with trauma, vicarious trauma and stress.
“People of all faiths will benefit by attending the forum. Mental illness doesn’t only attack one group, but it affects every area of the community. Your congregants make up the church and the church is part of the community,” added Smith, who has 25 years in the ministry as well as worked the past seven years as an adjunct professor and mental health clinician.
In these positions, he learned how trauma can negatively affect people, how biases can re-traumatize individuals even more and stigmas about the illness often discourages people from seeking professional help.
Smith was also influenced to dedicate time to mental health by his involvement with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress, One Church One School national president Phedonia Johnson, Operation PUSH, Drew Child Development Corp. and Donna Miller of Chabad Residential Treatment Center for Men. In addition, professors at Claremont School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University, Argosy University, and Antioch University provided considerable guidance and instruction.
“Seeing the disparities within families and in religious settings, schools, the foster care system, prisons and throughout the homeless community inspired me to get involved and stay involved in an attempt to make a difference. Also, we have many professional agencies and community organizations that people can turn to for assistance,” he noted.
The program will include presentations by Smith along with Dr. Bryant Marks, a psychology professor from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia; Dr. Patrick Lockwood from California Lutheran University, and a diverse panel of community leaders. In addition, youth and young adults in attendance will be eligible to win a new bicycle.
To learn more about the event, call Carson Human Services at (310) 835-0212, ext. 1471 or Lifting The Veil, Inc., at (310) 906-8510 or email [email protected]