By: Ahliyah S. Chambers, Contributing Writer

The San Diego Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated hosted Our Minds Matter: Mental Health Forum on Saturday, October 1st at Bayview Baptist Church in San Diego. The room was filled with community members who heard from experienced mental health professionals, as well as learned about resources to support those in the San Diego area. Panelists Dr. Zemed Berhe, Monique Brooks, and James Crawford provided diverse perspectives on supporting mental health in our community. 

Attendees give their full attention to the panelists during the moderated Q&A session.

Dr. Berhe is a clinical psychologist and professor at San Diego State University where she provides mental health support to many college students. Berhe provided insight about coping with anxiety and depression in the age of social media and COVID-19. In her presentation, Dr. Berhe shared an overview of the symptoms related to anxiety and depression. She recommended attendees begin by reducing social media use for at least 30 minutes a day or consider doing a complete detox from these platforms. 

“Since the pandemic, we have seen that depression, anxiety, and self-harm have skyrocketed. We need to be mindful and intentional with [our] social media use because too much social media is linked to lack of motivation,” Berhe said.  

Monique Brooks is the Christian Counseling and Mental Health Ministry Director at Bayview Baptist Church. Brooks is a long-standing Bayview Baptist Church member and is Bayview’s First Lady alongside her husband, Senior Pastor Terry Wayne Brooks. Mrs. Brooks spoke about the realities of mental illness and described that no one is exempt from experiencing this, even those that are involved in ministry. 

“There is nothing wrong with praying to God and talking to a therapist,” Brooks shared. 

When discussing suicide prevention efforts, Brooks said, “We must utilize trained volunteers and collaborate with community partners to offer hope to those that are struggling.” 

James Crawford is a doctoral candidate in the Education Studies program at the University of California San Diego. In his studies, Crawford pursues research involving Black critical theory and community-based education spaces that utilize culturally sustaining pedagogies and curricula to cultivate individual and collective healing and empowerment. Drawing from his professional and personal experiences, Crawford spoke about the importance of investing in youth and creating space to discuss racial trauma for communities of color.

Panelists share a laugh as Monique Brooks presents on mental health affecting people from all walks of life.

“Instead of dealing with mental health as an individual issue, we need to address it as a systemic issue. If we recognized that our mental health issues are a natural response to unhealthy circumstances, we could disrupt and shift the conditions that we are living under,” Crawford articulated. 

“Community spaces that bring mentorship and enriching programming brings more cultural continuity, healing, and empowerment to Black youth. These intentional spaces are essential so that our youth can thrive rather than just survive,” Crawford said.

Carla Harris, President of the Delta’s San Diego Alumnae Chapter, closed the program by reassuring attendees that it is okay to lean into the community and ask for support. It was timely and valuable that the sorority sought to host this forum which will have a ripple effect far beyond last Saturday.