FAMU Office of Counselling brings mental health awareness to the black community

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for black males between the ages 15 to 24, according to the American Association of Suicidology.

Florida A& M is making an effort to bring mental health awareness to the black community. On Tuesday, FAMU co-hosted an HBCU Mental Awareness Day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Yolanda K. Bogan, director of the Office Counseling at Florida A & M, is a licensed psychologist and pivotal in the Mental Health Advocacy Grant that was awarded to FAMU in 2008.

Bogan said some factors that may contribute to the increasing rates of suicide are poverty, lack of education, racism and unemployment.

“Suicide is becoming more acceptable among those committing it,” Bogan said. “It used to be unacceptable behavior in the black community.”

Sunshine Manor is the counseling center located on FAMU’s campus. Services include individual, couples, and group counseling to students that is strictly confidential. They also provide psychiatric consultation to students that might need to consider medication as an option.

“I want to remind people that the counseling center is available to them,” Bogan said.

Students are allowed up to 12 sessions per semester. Sunshine Manor is a safe place for students to express issues that are often not discussed.

“Some people feel they are weak when they seek help from support systems,” said Bogan, “they need to know they are deserving of help.”

The center has recently hired a male counselor and started a male discussion group called Man Talk. The group meets every other Thursday at noon in Gibbs Hall.

With the recent death of student Antonio Burke, suicide has been brought to the attention of many people that never considered it a problem.

Nehemiah Weaver, 25, a graduate student from Orlando was startled to hear the effect suicide is having on the lives of black men.

“I think that the increase of suicides may be due to a lot of economic struggles,” says Weaver, “it’s sad to know people are giving up hope.”

Weaver also stated he believed community awareness and church outreach could play a significant part in helping to stop this epidemic.

In order to figure out why there is an increase in suicides in the black community it is important for research to be conducted. Dr. Bogan believes, “It is important for African-Americans to do the research and not leave it to others.”