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NAMI men's health forum aims to bring attention to mental illness in the Black and brown community

Nami says Black and brown men are less likely to reach out for help when it comes to their mental health.

TOLEDO, Ohio — This week, Black and brown men are the target of a forum to help them with their mental health. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness wants you to know you are not alone if you are going through a hard time. 

"Before I became a therapist, mental health was not really talked about. I grew up in the North End, city of Toledo," said Cecil Holston II, a therapist with RFS Behavioral Health. 

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Holston is working to help people live better lives and to understand the importance of their mental health.

"Our goal is to help educate not only our men, but parents or caregivers that are taking care of our African American men," said Sonya Quinn, the Community Outreach Coordinator with NAMI Greater Toledo

A study from the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health found Black adults in the U.S. are more likely to report sadness, hopelessness, and feeling like everything is an effort.

But still, they're less likely than white adults to receive proper care. 

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"The environments we grow up in ... I think our parents tell us to keep everything inside," Holston said. "'Don't let anything out of this house.' I think our family members tell us 'Don't go telling anybody about what happened.'"

There's also stigma and embarrassment behind mental health issues. 

"We have noticed that they're the ones that are kind of suffering the most," Quinn said. "Especially with everything that happened in 2020. We're coming out of a pandemic. The shootings that are happening all around." 

NAMI says it's the perfect time to join the conversation and see how you can help yourself.

"So I believe therapy helps them to understand that," Holston said. "You get to create your own goal. It just allows you to have an unbiased, non-judgmental person sit in front of you that's not a friend. That's not a family member. And kind of give you some advice."

Holston and Quinn are working together as part of NAMI's forum, called Our African American Men: A Journey to Mental Wellness and Well Being.

It's free and open to anyone on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

You can either call 419-243-1119 ext. 207 or email Quinn at squinn@namitoledo.org to register for the forum.