WATCH the “Challenging Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community” Virtual Conversation

Challenging Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community

Source: Radio One

Challenging Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community

In the black community, there is a negative stigma surrounding mental health. Instead of seeking professional help for conditions such as depression and anxiety, many in the community resort to self-medication (drugs, opioids, alcohol, etc.) or isolation in an attempt to solve their problems on their own. This issue of masking pain is especially prevalent amongst black men. We will address our communities’ mental well-being by inviting experts in the mental health field to join us with advice and action steps to a healthier lifestyle and overcome these stigmas.


Panelist include the following…

Pastor / Dr. Derwin L. Hickman, Sr., DMin

is the co-owner of Clearr Vission Support Services, Inc. for 16 years based in Eastern Henrico/Chesterfield, Virginia.  He is also the senior pastor for Divine World Changers International Ministries located in far Westend under the covering of Bishop Daniel and Co-Pastor  Elena Robertson, Jr. – Mt. Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries – Chesterfield, VA.  Dr. Hickman is the husband of Franswalla Hickman and father of 3 (Derwin Jr., Dymon, and Immanuel).

Education obtained from Virginia Commonwealth University Undergraduate Degree in Human Resource and Psychology, Virginia Union University Master’s Degree in Divinity, and Liberty University Doctorate Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.


Clearr Vission Support Services, Inc., is a Behavioral Health agency started by my wife and I 16 years ago.  We are an independent licensed DBHDS Medicaid provider in the state of Virginia. Our portfolio of offerings includes Adult Group Homes (Community Living Homes) – DD, Adult Day Support – DD, Therapeutic Day Treatment in/after school (youth), Behavioral Health Intensive In-Home (children counseling), and Behavioral Health Skill-Building (adult supports).

Our motto is “We See the Untapped Potential” in everyone.  We believe our programs are designed from a holistic approach.  We are not only treating what we see but what are the underlying issues helping to fuel behaviors, symptoms, or diagnosis.  We work with a clinical team to provide services to meet the needs of those who are voiceless.  I am the product of welfare and low-income housing vowing to help my people uncover a mindset of healing, freedom, and hope.

Clearr Vission Support Services, Inc.

5350-E & F Lewis Road

Sandston, VA 23150

804-328-1784 (o)

804-328-1793 (f)

“We See The Untapped Potential”


Richmond, Virginia native Shiloh Jones is a multi-business entrepreneur who has truly lived the rags to riches story. Coming from a poverty-stricken neighborhood like Highland Park to becoming a successful businessman was not an easy task. His environment did have its pros such as Richmond Community High School (a school for academically talented students primarily from minority and low-income families) where he excelled as a scholar. Interestingly enough, he also fell into the ills of society in his younger day seeing life on the other side of the fence but eventually broke the mold by finding purpose in fully engaging in the corporate world as a student of business. He did not want his environment and the statistics that were imposed on him to be his reality. His mission then became giving back to the community by providing services to better the lives of the people in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Having a mother who severely suffers from severe mental health issues, and a grandmother who died in a mental institution, Mr. Jones has had his fair share of real-life experiences from the world of mental health touching his direct situational circumstances. It’s no wonder he created businesses from deep-rooted passions that were in direct correlation with what he had witnessed himself. The drive for wanting to better himself and his community drove him into the mental health field. With over 15 years in the industry, Mr. Jones employs over one hundred people, the majority being people of color. His philanthropic efforts, he has given back over one million dollars to the community, donated scholarship money to over 50 underprivileged children to go to college, and continuously feeds the people of Richmond providing over 8k families with food (and still counting), and that’s just to name a few. In addition to that, he provides affordable housing to over 50+ tenants in the Richmond City area.  Shiloh Jones’ philosophy is about having an impact before profits while teaching the importance of financial literacy.


Kenny Anderson has worked in the mental health field for nearly 20 years.  Since 2006, his efforts have been dedicated to providing mental health treatment to disenfranchised populations throughout the state of Virginia.  His agency specializes in working with entire family units in their natural environment and removing the barriers that have historically limited access to necessary treatment.  His mission is to help redefine the narrative and negative stigma associated with mental health treatment.


HYPE Counseling Services, LLC was established in 2009 to bridge the gap between our youth and their needs by providing intensive supportive services. In 2012, HYPE Counseling Services began servicing the adult population by offering mental health support services. We recognized the importance of providing a quality program that allows children, adolescents, and adults develop the skills necessary to live independently in their homes and in the community.

To expand our services even further, HYPE Counseling Services now offers Crisis Stabilization and Addiction and Recovery Treatment. Crisis Stabilization provides short term intensive mental health care to individuals who are experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis. The goal is to address and stabilize mental health needs as early as possible.  Addiction and Recovery Treatment is designed for individuals requiring a level of care that is less intensive than inpatient, residential, or partial hospitalization while they recover from addiction treatment.

HYPE Counseling Services is strongly committed to enhancing the lives of others by providing each client with applicable tools that teach ways to successful reach each individualized goal.

H.Y.P.E. Counseling Services, LLC

“Helping You Pursue Enrichment, Enlightenment, and Excellence”

3333 W. Marshall St., Richmond, VA 23230 O. 804.213.0259| F. 804.254.4656


Lonnell Lewis has been providing mental health services for the past fifteen years. He received his master’s in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010 and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 2016. In 2017, Lonnell created Circle of Wellness, an outpatient practice providing psychotherapy to adults, children, adolescents, and couples. Lonnell has acquired a plethora of knowledge that has provided the tools to serve individuals with various mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders. As a therapist his goal is to help people get through the lousy times, not by removing the garbage, but by walking with them so they can see it is survivable.

Circle of Wellness (COW) is a group psychotherapy practice providing services to an array of various populations to include children, adolescents, adults, and couples.  COW was developed in 2017 with the mission to provide quality services that focus on integrating six dimensions of wellness. Each dimension comprehensively works together promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle, ultimately improving the overall quality of life. COW thrives to build self-respect, self-worth, and self-discipline by first teaching individuals the importance of wellness and mental health.

1901 Huguenot Road, Suite 100

North Chesterfield, Virginia 23235


Nicole Cook is a licensed clinical social worker who serves as the Crisis Stabilization Coordinator, an Outpatient Therapist, and Clinical Social Worker at National Counseling Group. She has been in the mental health field for over 12 years working with a diverse population of individuals, including older adults, substance use, children, and families. Nicole received her Bachelors degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee and her Masters degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Nicole became licensed as a clinical social worker in 2016.

Over the past 25 years, National Counseling Group has become a trusted resource for people struggling with mental, behavioral, and substance use issues. Our focus on quality and positive outcomes has made us a leading provider of home-based and community services throughout Virginia. National Counseling Group is part of ncgCARE, a network of eight behavioral health providers with locations in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

5014 Monument Ave

Richmond VA 23230

Office Phone: (804) 497-4676

Fax: (804) 497-4677


The Reverend Doctor Ayo Whitaker, a native of Washington, DC, was raised and educated in Virginia. Her spiritual relationship began when she accepted the Lord as her Savior at an early age and was baptized at Hungary Road Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia.  Dr. Ayo received and acknowledged the consecrated opportunity to be used by God and was licensed to preach the Gospel in 2005 by Chief Apostle Olive C. Brown at New Jerusalem International Christian Ministries.  Dr. Ayo accredits her ministerial introductions to her initial sermon which was a eulogy for her uncle and politician at the South African Consulate in Chicago, Illinois. That moment was the trajectory of Ayo’s call to the ministry and community leadership.

Embracing but not negating her Pentecostal roots, Ayo joined the Baptist church for spiritual growth, formation and educational experience in 2008. It was at the historic Gravel Hill Baptist Church, under the leadership of Reverend Doctor Ray McKenzie, where Dr. Ayo served as the Youth and Young Adult Minister. In 2011, she became the youngest and 2nd ordained female minister in its history. In 2016, Dr. Ayo transitioned out of youth ministry and became the associate minister of congregational care.

Educated in the Henrico County School system and committed to education, Dr. Ayo went on to attend the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; where she was an honor student. She has an extensive educational background having earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University; a Masters in Science Degree in Patient Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University and the Doctor of Ministry Degree at United Theological Seminary where her doctoral cohort and focus group was 21st Century Congregational Development & New Faith Communities.

Dr. Ayo has served in a bi-vocational role along with her ministerial duties. Her love for the underserved, grieving and brokenhearted makes her no stranger to the mental health, healthcare and death-care industries. She has worked at several historic funeral homes and cemeteries in the Richmond area; serving as a Family Services Counselor, Grief Facilitator and Funeral Assistant. Dr. Ayo is a trained chaplain experienced in Patient Counseling and Pastoral Care with four units of Clinical Pastoral Education. As a skilled counselor with emphasis on crisis intervention, Dr. Ayo worked many years for the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority where her greatest reward was supervising the Mobile Crisis Team that advocates for children and adults dually diagnosed with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability and Mental Health conditions. Ayo was instrumental with creating and developing strategies, assessment tools and behavioral techniques to promote optimum mental and emotional health; as well as, maximizing services to prevent inappropriate hospitalization and negative outcomes.  She recently transitioned to LifeNet Health as a Family Support Coordinator in their Transplant Services Division while also working as a Spiritual Support Coordinator and Chaplain for AT Home Care and Hospice.

Dr. Ayo is active in her community; receiving many honors and recognitions in her lifetime. Dr. Ayo is honored to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and a faithful sister in the Order of the Eastern Star. She is humbled by her spiritual gift of “humor” and the mandate for ministry that God has placed on her life. She is passionate about her purpose, which is to laugh, love, lead and labor and is unashamed to use her life as a teaching lesson to encourage, educate and empower to those she encounters.

AT Home Health & Hospice Care is an established, full-service home health agency and hospice that provides a superior quality of services in a caring manner. Our agency was founded by ED Kassab, an experienced nursing home administrator who wanted to meet the growing needs of homebound patients. In 1995, he created Advanced Technologies in Home Care, Inc. with his brother, Curt, and two visiting nurses. The agency later became known as AT Home Care. The Kassabs opened the first AT Home Care office in Ashland, and the agency quickly earned recognition for its superior patient care and personalized service. The agency was able to expand and establish headquarters in Richmond. As AT Home Care’s positive reputation continued to grow, so did its geographic coverage. The Richmond branch expanded to include coverage in Tri Cities. AT Home Care later expanded into Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, and Irvington.

AT Home Health & Hospice Care continues to provide exceptional, personalized in-home care to patients, and to employ dedicated, highly skilled health care professionals. Over the last 13 years, AT Home Care has broadened its services to include a variety of home health specialty programs as well as hospice care. We are a full-service agency, able to handle a broad spectrum of care needs. We are fully licensed and Medicare certified, and are accredited by CHAP (home health).

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