Oakland, California (December 15, 2021) — Last week the Surgeon General warned of a devasting mental health crisis among youth tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The African American Wellness Project, a non-profit working to reduce health disparities in the Black community, is excited to announce that in the wake of the mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, AAWP advisory board member and celebrity children’s author, Tyrell Zimmerman, will donate 100% of the proceeds of his book titled, My Dream, My Reality, centered around children’s mental health and trauma to support AAWP’s Mental Health Initiative through the end of the year.
Zimmerman, former 2010 National Football League Draft prospect, and current financial guru, is recognized nationally and locally for his work with at-risk youth and his work in the sports and entertainment industry as a mental health advocate. He authored this book to serve as a tool for children and adults to have guided discussions around traumatic experiences, as they are ever present and require attention.
Between 2019 and 2021, emergency room visits for suicide attempts went up 51% for young girls, and 4% for boys. Rates of depression and anxiety also doubled during that time, with 25% of kids reporting depressive symptoms and 20% with anxiety. In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for blacks or African Americans, ages 15 to 24.
The African American Wellness Project, formed a decade ago to address health disparities, works to improve the health of the African American community by serving as a megaphone for trusted information that enables and encourages this population to better navigate the healthcare system, advocate for themselves, and receive improved care, regardless of insurance or circumstances.
Components of AAWP’s mental health initiative include:
- Conducting a survey among educators that will inform our plan,
- Wellness Checks on the AAWP website for depression and stress,
- Launching a social media campaign destigmatizing treatment for mental health issues,
- Conducting focus groups among black psychiatrists and mental health providers about how to best screen for mental health issues among this populations, and
- And virtual events for parents on how to deal with mental health issues among children and techniques to cope.
“We know that health disparities, like mental health, will exist if we allow them to continue, and that through partnerships and initiatives like these we can start to reduce some of these disparities in the health and health care for African Americans,” said Monique Pittman, Executive Director of AAWP.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on America. Inferior housing, and economic conditions have caused minority communities to be placed at a higher risk for contracting and dying from COVID-19. In fact, African Americans are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 and experience greater personal, social, and financial stress even when not personally touched by the COVID illness. All of these have a direct effect on mental health, especially among children,” stated AAWP Founder and CEO, Dr. Michael LeNoir.
“The pandemic has revealed ugly realities about health care disparities in America. I am excited to expand my work in the area of mental health and thrilled to have a wider reach and work with a trusted community partner like the African American Wellness Project to make a difference.”
If you would like to make a difference this holiday season and support AAWP’s mental health initiative, please visit this link to purchase a copy of Zimmerman’s book titled My Dream, My Reality. All proceeds from book sales will go to further the mission of the AAWP in being a greater advocate in the African American Community.
Founded more than a decade ago, the African American Wellness Project (AAWP) was formed to respond to health disparities in the African American community and is dedicated to health equity and better health outcomes for people of color. AAWP is particularly focused on improving the health of the African American community by serving as a megaphone for trusted knowledge and information and providing guides and resources that enable and encourage African Americans to advocate for themselves and receive improved care, regardless of insurance or circumstances. Visit aawellnessproject.org for more information.