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    APA Foundation Launches New Initiative for Mental Health of Black Men and Boys

    Feb 20 2024

    The American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APA Foundation or APAF) is proud to announce the launch of a new initiative called the APAF My Brother’s Keeper Project that supports the mental health of young African American/Black males, whose suicide rates have risen faster than any other racial group in the past two decades. Notably, the suicide rate for Black males aged 10-19 has increased by 60% since 1993. This initiative will build on the APA Foundation’s Mental Health Care Works public awareness campaign to specifically reach this demographic, with tools, tips, and resources to build resilience and stress management techniques.

    One key catalyst of poor mental health outcomes in African American men and boys is the phenomenon of “John Henryism,” or the expectation that adverse circumstances will only inspire harder work with little rest (the term is equivalent to “high-effort coping”). The APA Foundation is committed to rewriting the narrative around men’s mental health, particularly Black men’s mental health, to convey the importance of seeking support when adverse conditions take a toll instead of hiding emotional pain. My Brother’s Keeper seeks to create new, psychologically safe opportunities for Black men and boys to normalize seeking out mental health care when they need it.

    “Seeking help when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness. The unique mental health challenges of young Black men and boys demand that we offer bold and creative solutions to save and transform their lives,” said Rawle Andrews, Jr., Esq., Executive Director of the APA Foundation. “The APAF My Brother’s Keeper Project supports not only the mental health of Black men and boys, but also the mental health of their families, coworkers, and friends. We are grateful to Alkermes, Inc., for their grant support in the amount of $50,000, and to the APA Foundation Board of Directors for matching funds of $25,000 and for recognizing the importance of mental health services and supports in the African American community, as well as the mental health of all minoritized groups.”

    The APA Foundation is fortunate to collaborate in this work with allied organizations, including: the APA Caucus for Black Psychiatrists, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Black Psychiatrists of America, the Huntsman Family Foundation, the HOPE Center Harlem, The Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, and more. Outcomes of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will include a new Mental Health Care Works campaign persona that chronicles the mental health journey of a young Black male as well as featured sessions at the BPA’s Spring Conference in March 2024, APA’s Annual Meeting during May 2024, and the Mental Health Services Conference during October 2024.

    Apart from the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the APA Foundation’s work to commemorate Black History Month includes sponsorship of the Black Youth Mental Health Clinical Case Conference series; a conversation with the HOPE Center Harlem about Men and Mental Health on February 8, 2024; CCNA Community Stakeholders Breakfast on February 13, 2024; S.M.I.L.E. (Smart Men in Leadership Excellence) Foundation Black History Month Awards Dinner on February 24, 2024; and an APA Diversity at Work presentation, featuring Victor Armstrong, M.S.W., Vice President & Engagement for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on February 27, 2024.