The ‘W’ hosts first ever Black men’s mental health conference

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) -Studies show men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. For Camillia Harris, she knows this all too well. She lost her father five years ago to suicide. Her goal now is to make sure other Black men don’t go down the same path.

“I lost my father tragically in 2019 to suicide, and since then, I have turned my pain into my purpose,” said Camillia Harris, Founder of “Justus” Mental Health Foundation. “I have been traveling city to city and state to state gathering our black men together so they can have a safe space for dialogue and conversation and talk about the things that have taken place in our culture.”

Camillia Harris is the founder of “Justus” Mental Health Foundation.

She said she knows that society has created the narrative that men should not express their feelings, which is another reason why she started the foundation

“We live in a world and in a culture where it is so taboo and it has been that stigma where it is like if something is wrong, you do not say anything,” said Harris. “A lot of people are dying in silence, and a lot of people are dying in pain. Unfortunately, we promote being physically well, but we forget having mental well-being”

Daniel Huggins and Dr. Reggielond Taylor spoke at the mental health conference.

They said they hope their message can help others who are struggling with mental health.

“For those who are out there, I hope they use the information as knowledge and spread the news of what they heard today,” said Huggins. “Hopefully, I hope someone took some information that they can go and pass it along to help someone else.”

“I hope that this conference will help someone who is dealing with mental health, and to know that there is help out there for them,” said Taylor. “If you are dealing with mental health, then ask for help. Do not be afraid, and do not be ashamed”

Kawaski Owens is a mental health counselor at Mississippi State, and he attended the conference.

He said the conference taught him a few things, that will benefit him on his job.

“A couple of things stood out to me, especially when it related to men being able to express themselves in a safe place,” said Owens. “I try to create that inside of my office of course, but I think what was highlighted here was that if we all come together, we can bring it out into the community.”

Harris said she will continue to do men’s mental health conferences around the country.

The conference was held at the Mississippi University for Women.

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