"You can call on Jesus and a Therapist"
Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Pastor, House of Hope


Voices of Hope:  Speaking Out About Mental Health in the African American Church and Community

Voices of Hope:  Speaking
Out About Mental Health in the African American Church
and Community

Tanya A. Royster, MD
Washington DC
Dept of Behavioral Health

Saturday, September 29, 2018
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
The House of Hope
4650 Flat Shoals Parkway
Decatur, GA 30016

FREE!! (Registration Required)

Tanya A. Royster, MD
Keynote Speaker

Anchor Hospital
Premier Sponsor

  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
  5. Managing Director

Venessa Abram:  Multi-Award Winning Author
Mental Health Advocate & International Inspirational Speaker
Closing Plenary Speaker

Venessa Abram

Venessa Abram, an Atlanta-based author, speaker and instructor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The RESPECT Institute and a Junior Board Member for American Foundation on Suicide Prevention (AFSP), is all too familiar with the trauma, pain and stigma surrounding mental illness, depression and suicide.

Her older brother, a decorated military veteran committed suicide nearly two years ago and she herself had attempted to end her life in years past.

 Now as a survivor, Abram has made it her mission to help families heal and educate others about the realities of mental illness, depression and suicide prevention, through an upcoming national speaking tour.

Abram's Pain, Positioning and Purpose Tour

In honor of her brother, a decorated military veteran who committed suicide, Venessa is engaged in an 8-city tour educating, empowering and inspiring individuals and families struggling with the causes and effects of mental illness, depression and suicide. (Please see inspiring video on the left.)

Tanya A. Royster, MD, Director

Dr. Tanya A. Royster is the Director of the Washington DC Department of Behavioral Health.  Dr. Royster was appointed to her leadership role by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

Dr. Royster is a Board certified General, and Child and Adolescent psychiatrist.

Learn more and hear directly from Dr. Royster by viewing the video (on your left).

Commitment to Serve

Prior to her appointment as the DC Executive Director, Department of Behavioral Health, Dr. Royster served as the Director of Behavioral Health at the Franciscan Physicians Network in Illinois. 

Dr. Royster also previously served as the Chief of Clinical Services System with the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health.

Dr. Royster is well published and was selected as a Child and Family Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Highly Trained Expert

Dr. Royster earned tenure at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she taught in the departments of medicine, nursing, social work and Honors College.

She also has served as medical consultant to an Illinois care coordination entity that provides care coordination services for the Illinois Medicaid agency. 

Dr. Royster is a graduate of the CaseWestern Reserve University School of Medicine and completed her general
psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry residencies at New YorkUniversity/Bellevue Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. James Lee Jr. is the president/CEO of Ascension Behavioral Healthcare
in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He has been in private practice for ten years,
specializing in general adult psychiatry. He is a graduate of Morehouse
College and Meharry Medical College. After graduating from medical school, he completed his residency in general adult psychiatry at the University of South Carolina/Palmetto Health Alliance. He later completed a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at Tulane University.

Currently, in addition to being in private practice, he serves as medical
director for Standards-Based Solutions, a mental health agency in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He also serves on the faculty of Edward C. Via Osteopathic School of Medicine as an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and as a contract psychiatrist for Winthrop University. Dr. Lee is board certified, and since 2013, he has been a credentialed provider for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), an FDA-approved treatment for depression since 2008.

The book focuses on Black communities due to the specific needs and issues of mental health in this population. These issues include inequalities in care in most settings, cultural differences in how symptoms present, concerns and common myths about illnesses that affect the mind.  We hope that by the end of this book, the reader will understand how mental illness affects the individual, the family, the home, the extended family, and collectively, the community.

We anticipate that we can demystify psychiatry allowing people to know that mental disorders are not something to fear or ridicule. It is important that the public understands that these are medical disorders of the mind that are treatable. Sadly, so often people needlessly suffer.  This book is written for the patients, families, community activists, social workers, police officers, paramedics, and first responders. It is a useful tool for individuals interested in mental health so that they can learn for themselves or take what they learn back to the community. This book is written so that it can be understandable and easily digestible for patients, families, and for just about anyone interested in mental health or psychiatry.

The framework of the book is to discuss the most common psychiatric diagnoses.  The intent is to be a brief, usable book for most people affected by or interested in mental health.  

This book is a basic resource for building an understanding for mental health. It is designed to be read cover to cover, but readers will also be able to go to specific chapters that pertain to them as individuals. This book is also useful for professionals who want to provide their patients with a resource for information and understanding of their diagnoses and what to expect in treatment and care.
James Lee, MD
Global Health Psychiatry


Chelsealya Payne
Mistress of Ceremonies

Dr. Desmond Banks
Senior Medicaid
Policy Analyst
Managing Depression &
Reconnecting with my Dad

James Banks
Former UGA MVP
"Black Fathers Matter"
My Successful Son
Still Needed Me

Shanti Das, Founder
Silence the Shame
Music Industry Executive
"Balancing Career, Family,
  and Depression"

Deborah Hanson, LPC
Panel Facilitator

Jewell Gooding
Executive Director
Mental Health America
Youth & Suicide

Brian Anderson, Founder
Beautiful Scars
African American Men
and Mental Health

Nikisha Grissom
PTSD & Trauma
Survivor of
Daughter's Murder



Ministers Only
Workshops with
Panel Presentations

Sophia Burns
Panel Facilitator
Executive Director
Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta

  1. Rosemary Graham, Disability Director
    Rosemary Graham, Disability Director
    Certified Leader, Beyond Suffering
  2. Curtis Fox, PhD, MDiv
    Curtis Fox, PhD, MDiv
    Pastor, Conyers 7th Day Adventist Church CEO, TRU Integrative Health and Wellness
  3. Herman Haynes, PhD, MDiv
    Herman Haynes, PhD, MDiv
    Staff Pastor Pastoral Counseling Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church
  1. Brian Jones, PhD, MDiv
    Brian Jones, PhD, MDiv
    CEO, Joshua Generation Counseling
  2. Curtis Fox, PhD, MDiv
    Curtis Fox, PhD, MDiv
    Pastor, Conyers 7th Day Adventist Church CEO, TRU Integrative Health and Wellness.
  3. Herman Haynes, PhD, MDiv
    Herman Haynes, PhD, MDiv
    Staff Pastor Pastor Counseling Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church

Mental Health & the Church

The Importance of Self Care

Mini Drama created for the
2018 Mental Health Conference

Speaking Out About Mental Health in the
African American Church and Community
September 29, 2018
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Registration/Checkin:  8:00 am - 8:45

The House of Hope
Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Pastor
4650 Flat Shoals Parkway
Decatur, GA 30016

Tanya A. Roster, MD Director
Washington DC Dept of Behavioral Health Keynote Speaker

 Venessa Abram
Multi- Award Winning Author
 Closing Plenary Speaker