News  Mental Health Stigmas in Communities of Color Discussion Available On-Demand!

  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
cover photo

On Thursday, 9/3, William James College's Black Mental Health Graduate Academy in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) hosted a panel discussion on stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness in communities of color with mental health providers and community members. The discussion was moderated by Daniela Trammell Harrigan, DMH's Director of Community Engagement.


Melanie Robinson Findlay, LCSW

Melanie is a licensed independent clinical social worker who worked simultaneously in a correctional facility and community mental health center for ten years. She is currently in private practice and is the Chair of the Board of Registration of Social Workers in Massachusetts. She is also a clinical psychology doctoral student at William James College with concentrations in Forensic and Neuropsychology.

Pilar Tucker, M.A.

Pilar Tucker, M.A., is a second-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at William James College, the Founder/CEO of Empower Our Crown, and a proponent of mental wellness and leadership development for vulnerable populations. Through education, advocacy, and activism, Pilar is committed to social change, community advancement and global outreach. Pilar dedicates her life work to fostering overall wellbeing by dismantling racial injustices, breaking gender hierarchies, and advocating for equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Sohenga C. Depestre

Sohenga C. Depestre is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at William James College where she is enrolled in the African and Caribbean Mental Health concentration. She is a proud Haitian-American who has been inspired by family members and mentors to pursue a career focusing on social justice and integrating the arts with mental health treatment. Sohenga has trained with the Department of Mental Health - Massachusetts Mental Health Center’s Young Adult Team. Sohenga is dedicated to combatting mental health stigma and raising awareness for mental health services in historically marginalized communities with an emphasis on suicide prevention and serious mental illness among youth.

Simone Matthews

Simone Matthews' is a second-year student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at William James College (WJC). Simone is a past co-president of the psychology club, member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society and treasurer of the Psi Chi Honor Society at Framingham State University. At WJC, she is a student leader in the Academic Councils Engaging Students.  Simone is passionate about using her voice and clinical skills to dismantle injustices in communities of color. She is dedicated to being an influential advocate for social change and culturally competent counseling. As a Black female counselor, Simone has committed her career to de-stigmatizing mental health and creating safe places for vulnerable people to talk about difficult topics.

Julia Lotin, LCSW

Hospital Social Worker, Board President of Cape Verdean Women United

  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health 

    The Department of Mental Health, as the State Mental Health Authority, assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages; enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities.
  • Help Us Improve with your feedback