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Activist starts mental health group for Black men

Posted at 6:51 PM, Sep 07, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville activist for rehabilitation is creating a group for Black men to talk about the stresses of mental health in America.

Ron Johnson said he's disturbed by images he sees on TV and online. Working with those in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, he sees the benefits of therapy. Johnson said he believes Black men can benefit from talking about their mental health, a subject he believes is ignored in certain communities.

"For Black men, it's the understanding that it's not something to be ashamed of," said Johnson. "That's what, growing up, we would be ashamed if people in our community knew that our family was going through counseling or this that and the other. People would make fun of you, call you a member of the cuckoo family."

Johnson's group will be called Experiencing Mental Health. He wants to focus on current events that often put stress on the minds of Black men.

"I want to create a platform for them to be able to dump some of those things that they've been walking around with for such a long time," he said.

Johnson said he thought of the idea after receiving a call from a friend who was in distress.

"I'm thinking has something happened to his kids or his family," said Johnson. "No, it was what he was seeing and experiencing, seeing the things that's happening to us as black men in this country. He said I can't take no more man. I don't know what to do and that is where he and I put our minds and head together and said that's mental health man. That's a struggle."

The first meeting for the group will happen at Venue 109 in Madison at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday.

Johnson said he wants to keep the group relatively small to start off with. He's only allowing 25 people to attend. He said he'll try to livestream the event on Facebook, though.

Anyone who is interested in Johnson's work can contact him through his website.