The Institute of Public Health held a Mental Health Symposium June 1, at Florida A&M University, to educate people on stigmas faced by women of color.
The event hosted two panels of professional academia’s including keynote speaker Dr. King Davis, professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Davis noted that African American women in college participate in “delayed help seeking” and most women have low mental health literacy.
“Students are a large majority of the victims from delayed help seeking,” said Davis. “The rate of women is higher because many African Americans males are not enrolled in college.”
Based on The National Center for Education Statistics, females are expected to account for the majority of college students.
Panelist Dr. Yolanda Bogan, Professor & Director of the University Counseling Center, says that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted on campuses across the country in the duration of completing their degree.
“More than likely you will know someone who has been sexually assaulted while they are matriculating,” said Bogan.
Bogan says reporting sexual assaults, being supportive of the victim, and participating in bystander training offered at FAMU are some ways to combat the “delayed help seeking” phenomena.
According to the 2013-2014 Campus Security Report approximately four sexual assaults have occurred on FAMU’s campus.
Bogan says that the report does not account for the sexual assaults not reported.
Attendee, Robyn Crast, Big Bend Health Network Coordinator says the information given at the event contributes to reducing the stigmas talked about.
“It’s very important to have these types of things in the community to raise awareness and to educate people,” said Crast.
Panelist Wachell Mckendrick, MSW Director & Assistant professor, said in a study done by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 47 percent of females experience intimate partner sexual abuse.
Davis says the image of being a “Strong black woman” contributes to the paradox of African American women self-medicating instead of seeking the professional help they require.
Speaker Dr. Huberta Jackson-Lowman said women have to rethink being a strong black woman and become a knowledgeable woman.
“It is not the measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said Jackson-Lowman.
Davis said at least 50 percent of people will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime.