Congressman Kim Convenes Black Mental Health Leaders for Virtual Roundtable Discussion

August 14, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Kim Convenes Black Mental Health Leaders for
Virtual Roundtable Discussion

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) was joined by Black mental and public health leaders for a virtual roundtable discussion on racial disparities in mental health. This roundtable is part of a series of listening sessions held by the Congressman that have included a conversation about policing reforms with local mayors and law enforcement officials, a roundtable with Black small business owners, and a virtual forum on discrimination and bias.

“Like so many places in our society, there are vast inequities in access to mental health care for Black Americans across our country. These inequities have a real and lasting impact in the lives of so many throughout our communities, and it’s important that we shine a light on this topic,” said Congressman Kim. “I want to thank the mental health leaders who joined me today for this critical discussion and I look forward to working with them to address the challenges in accessing the care and treatment so many in our community need.”

Congressman Kim was joined by Black mental and public health leaders including Dr. Monique Swift, President of the NJ Association of Black Psychologists, Dr. Jennifer Jones-Damis, a licensed psychologist and Treasurer of the NJ Association of Black Psychologists and Mark Williams, member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Jersey (NAMI NJ) African American Community Together NOW (AACT-NOW) initiative and a retired psychiatric nurse.

Specific issues discussed on the call included the mental health impacts of racial trauma and the Coronavirus pandemic; gaps in access to care for low-income adults and the underinsured; mental health stigma; and the shortage of Black clinicians among mental health professionals. Leaders called for more funding for prevention programs and increasing anti-stigma initiatives.

“As a private practitioner, many members of the community are turning to me for help,” said Dr. Swift, “When we look at the mental health profession it often does not reflect the community, and the barriers to education and to licensure are critical reasons why it is not as diverse.”

Congressman Kim is a member of the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, where he serves as one of twelve members of the House tasked with conducting oversight over programs aimed at ending the Coronavirus pandemic and helping address the economic impact it’s having on the American people. Congressman Kim is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Small Business. More information about Congressman Kim can be found on his website by clicking here

 

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