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WSSU alumna sponsoring inaugural Black Mental Health Summit in Winston-Salem

alexia mitchell at the inaugural black mental health summit

A Winston-Salem State University alumna is the mastermind behind a new program in Forsyth County that seeks to break the stigma of mental health services in the Black community.

Alexia Mitchell, a licensed clinical therapist-associate and owner and founder of Reset and Heal, a mental health consulting company, is hosting the inaugural Black Mental Health Summit (BMHS) on May 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Enterprise Center at 1922 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The event will feature a keynote address, mental health experts and two panel discussions. Among the panelists are two WSSU employees, Dr. Keisha Grayson Rogers and Tim Pittman.

Mitchell said this is the first event of its kind in Forsyth County.

“My purpose for creating the BMHS was because I recognized the urgent need to address mental health issues within the Black community – a demographic often disproportionately affected by mental health challenges yet facing significant barriers to accessing care.,” Mitchell said.

Alexia Mitchell

“I believe the hesitation to discuss mental health is due to the fear of being labeled or seen as ‘crazy.’ Due to the stigma, the Black community leans on their spiritual or religious practices or seeks consultation from family and friends,” she said.

This initiative aims to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health, to encourage open dialogues, and to provide culturally sensitive resources and support. “By bringing together mental health professionals, community leaders and individuals with lived experiences, the summit seeks to foster a supportive environment where participants can learn, share and find pathways to healing and resilience,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Pamela Oliver, executive vice president of Novant Health and chief medical officer, is the keynote speaker. Winston-Salem Chief of Police William Penn and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Senior Program Officer Shenell Thompson are featured speakers.

The panel discussion, “Mental Health is Wealth,” will be moderated by Victoria Fleury and include the following mental health professionals: Katina Little, Lamont Joe, Kamilah McKissick, Alison Harris Welcher, Keisha Horton and Pittman, who serves at the WSSU Wellness Center as a case manager and counseling services’ assistant director.

The panel, “Unapologetically Black,” moderated by Brandon Love, features mental health professionals Tiffany Hall, Brock Grace, Shawn Perkins Jazmyn Holland, Carmen Haskins and Rogers, associate professor at WSSU in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling.

“I will share the importance of destigmatizing mental health and amplifying the importance of seeking therapy,” Rogers said of her segment. “I plan to discuss the importance of community as well. In particular, I will discuss how community is tied into our identities and our well-being as Black people. I will share the importance of building community and creating spaces where we can be our most authentic selves, where our Blackness is celebrated and where our wellness is supported through embracing our cultural identity, increasing self-love and self-acceptance, and challenging stigma around mental health.”

Mitchell is a 2007 graduate of WSSU, having earned a degree in sociology with a concentration in social welfare. She received her Master of Social Work from the Joint Master’s in Social Work program, a collaboration between N.C. A&T State University and UNC-Greensboro. She began her career in child welfare with the Forsyth County Department of Social Services before transitioning into mental health within the nonprofit sector. At the conclusion of her 10-year nonprofit career, she was executive director of community-based services at a leading child mental health provider.

“My education at WSSU prepared me for my career by providing me a strong sense of community and belonging,” Mitchell said. “WSSU provided me with a sense of resilience and determination, allowing me to carry those values into my career and later into entrepreneurship.” 

One of her greatest honors was being inducted into the WSSU 40 under 40 class in 2023. “Words cannot express how much that recognition meant to me. To be recognized by my alumni and peers meant that I have carried the university’s mission of ‘Enter to Learn and Depart to Serve’ very well,” she said.

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