The African Coalition recently held a meet and greet discussion forum with African communities leaders in and around Los Angeles. Moderated by board member Mr. Kofi Peprah, who provided a review of statistics of Africans in Los Angeles and the US, the forum acknowledged the gap in mental health resources for African immigrants and lamented the lack of organizations solely dedicated to the mental health of this demographic who though highly educated suffer in silence in stark contrast to other immigrant communities. The forum therefore saw a need to establish channels of communication and resources particular to the interests of people of African descent and African immigrants.
In response to the vacuum of support in mental health for African immigrants, a community plagued by taboos and stigma, the forum emphasized the need for community leaders to actively share resources and provide the liaison for African communities to get the resources needed. African immigrants it noted were challenged by not only the stress faced by all immigrants in general but also the legal issues peculiar to the immigrant struggle including status adjustment, economic growth, professional developments, and social integration among other things that greatly contribute to sound mental health.
In attendance were community leaders who ran the gamut of professions and diaspora communities including Ghana, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, USA, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea etc. all pulling together for representation of an African-centered mental health, outreach and engagement. While applauding the African Coalition’s efforts, The Immigrant Magazine pledged support in getting the message to the target communities.
Topics of discussion and presenters included:
- Empowering our Communities
Romalis Taylor, African Coalition board member
- Bridging the MH services gap
Brenda Ingram, License Social Worker, Pacific Oaks Professor, Coalition trainer.
- Immigration Services and Community needs
Odion Okojie Civil Rights Attorney
- Common Immigration cases, Services what we have started
- Community Strengths and Challenges Discussion (participants)
Focus: Ways of collaborating with each community and African Coalition
- Temporary Protection Status (TPS)
Amaha Kassa (from NY on the phone) African Immigrants of NY
- Call for Action
Alpha G. Timbo, Therapist in Los Angeles, Member, African Coalition
Executive Director Sinait Admassu expressed gratitude for all in attendance while emphasizing on the need for close collaboration between the African Coalition and the leaders who she said were the eyes and ears of their respective communities.
About The African Communities Public Health Coalition
The African Coalition was formed in response to the growing challenges of mental illness in African communities, and to the lack of culturally competent outreach and educational mental health services
Its members constitute a coalition of individuals and organizations that represent faith, business, service provider, community leaders, and concerned individuals. These community members collaborate to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach, education, and social services through various means.