Richmond youths, families, law enforcement and community leaders to meet on mental health

Richmond youths are set to have a public discussion with law enforcement and community leaders about the mental health challenges facing black youths.

Richmond youths and their families are set to have an important public dialogue with law enforcement and community leaders Thursday about the mental health challenges facing black youths.

The event, “This Way to a Healthy Community,” is set to take place at the Richmond Memorial Convention Center from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the programming starting at 2 p.m. and a wellness fair at 4 p.m.

The meeting is administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority as part of the voter-funded Mental Health Services Act.  It is a response to California statistics showing 28-percent of all incarcerated juveniles last year were African American, a group that comprised of less than 7-percent of the state’s population.

Many experts in both the mental health and law enforcement fields now say many poverty-stricken black youths suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illnesses seen by soldiers in war zones. The need to recognize and mitigate trauma for youths has been a focus in many U.S. communities.

“This community dialogue will help key stakeholders learn to recognize the ‘signs’ of mental health challenges and begin to build partnerships that provide culturally responsive resources to address those needs,” organizers of Thursday’s event said.

The featured speakers at the event include DeVone Boggan, director for the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety;  Tomás Alvarez, CEO of Beats, Rhymes and Life; and the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church.

Mental health professionals, community leaders and youths will be also available for interviews throughout the program.