Activities involving meditation and intensive prayer permanently
strengthen neural functioning in specific parts of the brain that are involved in lowering anxiety and depression.

 -- Andrew Newburg, MD, Neuroscientist 

FBMHI presentation to the
Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta



Making the connection between Psychology and Theology
to promote mental and emotional well being

The Problem

Philosophy for the Solution

  • One in six Americans, including African Americans, are currently diagnosed with a psychological disorder, particularly Depression and Anxiety. 

  • One in five Americans, including African Americans, will experience mental illness within their lifetime.

  • African Americans are more likely to delay treatment for mental illness resulting in greater severity of symptoms.  Stigma and shame are major factors that result in the reluctance to seek treatment.

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among youth age 10 - 24.  Rates of suicide have increased by 30% among all Americans since 1999. 

  • For the first time in history African American males age 5 - 11 have the highest rate of suicide of any other racial or ethnic group within that age range.
The Faith-Based Mental Health Initiative (FBMHI) is a collaborative effort between mental health professionals, individuals with lived experience, and diverse faith communities to promote the benefits of Spirituality on mental health outcomes.  The FBMHI advocates for the integration of therapy, medication (when needed), and spiritual practices as a powerful solution to meet mental health needs.

According to Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, MD, "every human brain, from early childhood on, contemplates the possibility that spirituals realms exist. ...
If you contemplate God long enough, something surprising happens in the brain.  Neural functioning begins to change.  New dendrites are formed, new synaptic connections are made.

Activities involving meditation and intensive prayer permanently strengthen neural functioning in specific parts of the brain that are involved in lowering anxiety and depression (How God Changes Your Brain, Breakthrough Findings From A Leading Neuroscientist.)

Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church
January 2018

Faith-based Mental Health Initiative
Integration of Psychology & Theology
  1. Biblical Truths
    Biblical Truths
    Whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is pure ... think on these things
    The Bible contains practical strategies for improving mental health status. A pivotal truth is the impact of thoughts on emotions and behavior: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 27:19
  2. Psychological Principles
    Psychological Principles
    Thoughts trigger emotions. Emotions trigger behaviors. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
    We know more about how the brain functions today that any other time in the history of Science. Psychological theories, developed through research, provide the framework for treatment. Psychological principles often parallel biblical truths.
  3. Faith-based Mental Health Initiative
    Faith-based Mental Health Initiative
    A collaboration between Mental Health Professionals, Peer Specialists, Individuals with lived experience, and diverse faith communities to promote psycho-social functioning and emotional well-being


Our Mission
The overall mission of the Faith-Based Mental Health Initiative (FBMHI) is to increase awareness of mental health patterns and trends; to increase knowledge of effective symptom management; and to promote access to culturally-competent services, particularly those that expertly integrate Psychology and Theology.

A primary strategy is to collaborate with faith communities, benefiting from the prominence of the Church within the African American Community.  Research indicates that African Americans are more likely to seek advice regarding their mental health needs from Pastors, Ministers, and other church leaders.  We are currently partnering with various churches on two projects:  (1) the 2018 Mental Health Conference:  Speaking Out About Mental Health in the African American Church and Community; and (2) the African American Mental Health Guide.

Meet The FBMHI Team
  1. Executive Director
    Charlene Flagg, LCSW, MA
    Chief Executive Officer, Matters of the Heart Counseling Services, LLC; Author, Matters of the Heart: From Pain to Purpose to Power; Master of Divinity Student, Emory University; Former Program Manager, Multicultural Health, Univ of Michigan Health System Church: The House Of Hope Atlanta
  2. Executive Director
    Herman Haynes, PhD, MDiv
    Staff Pastor, Pastoral Care and Counseling, Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church; Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor; Police Chaplain, DeKalb; County Chaplain, Prison Chaplain Church: Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church, Director, Pastoral Counseling
  3. Executive Director
    Chelsealya Payne, Life Coach
    Founder, PAYNE & Glory, Inc; Ministry Leader, “Pain in the Pews: Mental Health and Ministry”; Chairperson, Annual PITP Mental Health Conference; Ministry Leader, Chat and Chew Mental Health Forum; Specialization: Survivors of Domestic Abuse
  4. Executive Director
    Debra Hanson, EdS, NCC, LPC
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Rapha House Counseling, Coaching and Consulting; Ordained Elder, Pilgrim Cathedral of Atlanta; Pastoral Counselor, Pilgrim Cathedral of Atlanta; 10+ Years Public School Teacher and Counselor
  5. Executive Director
    Minister Brian Anderson
    Certified Peer Specialist, Certified Recovery Educator, Certified Whole Health and Wellness Trainer, Co-Founder of Beautiful Scars Inc.
  6. Executive Director
    M. Queen Bailey Brooks, LCSW
    Owner & Chief Transformation Officer, A Wholistic Approach, LLC (aka AWA), Keynote Transformational Speaker, Aging Services Consultant, Quality Assurance Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Psychotherapist and Philanthropist
  7. Executive Director
    Eric Crawford, APC, NCC
    Licensed Therapist with experience working with individuals, families, and groups in various settings, including inpatient, private practice, and schools. Practice Specialization: African American Male Youth
  8. Executive Director
    Curtis Fox, PhD, MDiv
    CEO and Director, Clinical Services, TRU Integrative Health and Wellness; Pastor, Conyers Seventh Day Adventist Church; Professor & Department Chair, Dept. of Counseling & Family Services, Loma Linda University; National Certification in Marital and Family Therapy
  9. Executive Director
    Angela Franklin, CPS
    State Certified Peer Specialist, Dept of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities; Owner, Crafty Treasures by Angela; 15+ Years, Youth Social Services
  10. Executive Director
    Rosemary Graham
    Disabilities & Special Needs Ministries Director; Certified Leader, Beyond Suffering, Joni & Friends Certified Peer Supporter – Disability Link; Certified Associate Director, Depression &Anxiety Recovery Program, Nedley Health Solutions; Certified Suicide Prevention, Certified Mental Health First Aid
  11. Executive Director
    Keba Green, Ph.D.
    Licensed Marriage & Family Psychoanalyst; Relationship Coach; Consultant, Published Author; International Speaker
  12. Executive Director
    Loretta Gail Reynolds
    Committees: (TBA)
  13. Executive Director
    Rev. Thomas Edmondson, MDiv
    Committees: (TBA)
  14. Executive Director
    Rev. Orlando Scott, MDiv
    Staff Chaplain, Gwinnett Medical Center; Elder, First Christian Church of Atlanta; Member, Regional; Disciples of Christ Mental Health Advocacy Team; Contextual Education Site Supervisor, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  15. Executive Director
    Minister Llona Speede
    Committees: (TBA)
  16. Executive Director
    Olinda Ricard-Hodge
  17. Executive Director
    Minister Gwendolyn Traylor
    Committees: (TBA)
  18. Executive Director
    Minister Joyce Oneal
    Committees: (TBA)
  19. Executive Director
    Minister Jared Jeffries
    Committees: (TBA)
  20. Executive Director
    Bryan Jones, PhD, MDiv
    Executive Director, Joshua Generation Care and Consultant Services, LLC; Host of Radio Show, Therapeutic Conversations; Ordained Minister, Clinical Chaplain, Pastoral Counselor Founder, Therapeutic Empowerment Services; Media Personality, Regular Appearances on National Television and Radio Shows
  21. Executive Director
    Jennifer Glaze
    Committees: (TBA)
    Committees: (TBA)
  22. Executive Director
    Venessa Abram, MBA
    Visionary/CEO of Self-Discovery: Pain, Positioning & Purpose, Inc. Suicide-survivor, Sibling-Suicide survivor. Multi-Award Winning Author. Wellness Coach. AFSP Junior Board Member. NAMI Speaker and Facilitator. RESPECT Institute Speaker. Mental Health Keynote Speaker & Advocate. 2018 Multi-City Mental Health Conference Tour and Catalyst of change to stop the stigma around mental health.