ATTITUDE: A Mental Health Summit for African American Women

On Saturday, January 25, 2020, a ground-breaking event was held at The Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain. Social Roots, LLC, a social work consulting firm owned by sole proprietor Roicia S. Banks, MSW, conceived of, planned, and executed a mental and physical health symposium for African American Women. The inspiration for this event came when Roicia attended the Power Rising Leadership conference for African American women professionals last year in New Orleans. During one of the presentations, a pastor spoke about sexual abuse and trauma. Soon, the same women who were previously dancing and joyously having a good time began grieving and the tears started to flow. In that moment, the need for a symposium like ATTITUDE became clear for Roicia. She realized that black women need a safe space for healing, information, and resources that are culturally competent and non-biased to facilitate our collective healing processes.

The Phoenix event drew over 100 women from all over the valley who came to experience a gathering that was uniquely designed to addressed the pressing mental and physical health needs. Black women struggle – like many marginalized and under-served poor and minority groups – to find adequate resources to address their trauma and health issues. These women can be professionals, heads of households, and mothers to our future generations. Without adequate, readily accessible, and  culturally competent resources, we are unable to address our generational and ongoing traumas and clear the path for creating healthy children, families, and communities.

The summit convened expert speakers who were medical doctors, clinical social workers, historians, and artists. These women provided workshops and presentations on topics ranging from suicide prevention, sexual health, and post-partum depression. Onsite HIV testing was also offered by Ebony House, Inc. and more that 35 women took advantage of the testing. The attendees, including myself, responded with an outpouring of positive feedback and expressed the need for ongoing sessions like this to continue providing support for the under-served African American communities in the Phoenix area. I am proud that YWCA was a sponsor of this phenomenal event!!!!!

Lisa Cagnolatti-Daniels
YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix Board Member