DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
In Lorenzo Lewis’ eyes, barber shops are important resources when trying to raise community awareness about #mentalhealth.
“Barbers are naturally already leaders,” Lewis said. “Everybody, whether you’re somebody that’s homeless or a school principal, everyone knows the local barbers.”
Barber shops, Lewis said, are places where people naturally congregate and discuss anything from politics to sports to relationships. #Mentalhealth can be a part of those conversations and help reduce the #stigma that surrounds #mentalhealthissues.
Lewis, who founded The Confess Project, hosted discussions Saturday at Precision Cuts Barber Shop, 7504 S. Anthony Blvd., and 2K Tight Barber Shop, 3230 S. Clinton Stt. The events were sponsored via a partnership between Purdue Fort Wayne’s Behavioral Health and Family Studies Institute, Parkview Behavioral Health, the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Stop Suicide of Northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne Girlz Rock.
#TheConfessProject is an initiative that confronts the perceived shame of #mentalhealth problems by #men of color. Lewis, during his presentations, encourages people to confess to their issues and begin working toward better living. Lewis was born in jail to an incarcerated mother and struggled with #depression, #anxiety and anger throughout his youth.
On Saturday, Lewis said the Fort Wayne events were a big deal for himself and The Confess Project.
“It was an awesome opportunity to come here and ignite strategy, have organic and authentic conversations with community members and talk about how we can utilize some of these efforts to see our communities thrive more socially, economically and be more healthy overall,” he said.
Alice Jordan-Miles, director of PFW’s Behavioral Health and Family Studies Institute, said it’s important to remove the #stigma around #mentalhealth, something Lewis’ organization strives to do. Too many people, especially #men, Jordan-Miles said, suffer in silence.
“I believe that the #stigma around #mentalhealth really prevents people from getting help,” she said. “They’re either made fun of or considered less than or weak. Especially in the minority community, we’ve always had to be strong.”
Communities need to begin encouraging people – especially #men – to acknowledge their #mentalhealth, Jordan-Miles said.
“The culture has to change around #mentalhealth,” she said.
Lewis continues his Fort Wayne tour today from 10 a.m. to noon at Come as You Are Community Church.