Black Women Mental Health Institute

Written by: Dr. Edith Langford

Author, Ethnographic Researcher & Clinician, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC, LMHC), and Addiction Specialist (CASAC, ADC) with four decades of experience. After a lifetime of experiencing ongoing medical mistreatment, she is working on a memoir about medical racism in our healthcare system

Dr. Artie C. Nelson, MD, Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatrist in Birmingham, AL, was a guiding light for my longing professional heart. He presented his humous family style stories. I hardly heard a word. I simply marveled at his laidback patients, his willingness to answer questions and his abilitydemonstration of patients. How many psychiatrists even sit with a patient for more than 15 mins.

It was July 13, 2023 and I had traveled to Birmingham Alabama to attend the Black Women’s Mental Health Institute’s Mental Health Equity and Liberation Summit 2023. Dr. Nadia Richardson, PhD, Founder and CEO, Black Women’s Mental Health Institute and her staff including Shandrika Cook, Director of Clinical Services at the Black Women’s Mental Health Institute who I had the opportunity to interview, had pulled off the most resourceful and useful networking Mental Health conference that I had ever attended.

Kimberly Boswell, Commissioner of Alabama State Mental Health Department, personalized her message regarding her understanding of the need for mental health resources by sharing her own mental health story. She took time to talk with me about one of her initiatives, 988 Mental Health Helpline.

Marika Coleman, Alabama State Senator, suggested a need for Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams. I volunteered to be involved in starting that team or surviving in any capacity.

Dr. Stephanie Evans, Georgia State University presented the history of the uses of tea parties for further engagement on many important matters. We also discussed my use of certain support and recovery teas for certain trauma symptoms.

Dr. Evans in partnership with Dr. Nishaun Battle, PhD of Virginia State University, and artist Dania Wright of FluffyJo Studios presented their book The Black Women’s Healing History of Tea.

Three hours after his presentation Dr. Artie Nelson, who was clearly committed to the effort to enhance the quality of mental healthcare, walked up to me to say goodbye. He gave me a card and ask me to contact him anytime. I looked into the eyes of a true kindred spirit. A Black male psychiatrist my exact age with roots in Alabama. He had also toiled 40 years in the same field, plowing the row next to mine.

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