Author encourages students to explore hidden pain

The taboo topic of mental health will be brought to the forefront during a special Black History Month presentation sponsored by the Office of African-American Student Affairs and Northern Kentucky University.

Author, activist, social worker and entrepreneur Terrie Williams will be speaking to students, faculty and staff on the effects of mental health issues that affect African-Americans. In her presentation, Williams will also reveal her own personal struggles with depression.

Coordinator of African-American Student Affairs Deborah Strahorn is excited to welcome Williams to NKU because it’s an issue that she has seen growing on college campuses.

“I think students and also faculty and staff will really find her lecture kind of powerful in addressing these issues,” Strahorn said.

Williams’ most recent work “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting” takes a closer look into mental health and depression in the African-American community and how it can lead to lashing out. According to Strahorn, these topics are rarely talked about among families because the stigma to be strong prevents many African-Americans from seeking help.

In her lecture, Williams plans to focus on mental health in the community, while using “Black Pain” as reference. She provides historical context to the issues, according to Strahorn, which ties in with NKU’s Black History Month celebration.

But Black History Month is also about looking into the future and what is happening now.

Strahorn said there has been a spotlight on mental health, especially on college campuses. Although Williams may target the African-American community, Strahorn thinks the lecture will still be beneficial to all students and staff because it is an issue that affects the entire community.

“This isn’t something that is just for us,” Strahorn said. “I think this is going to affect and benefit the campus community and the surrounding community pretty heavily.”

Strahorn encourages students to attend, especially if the mental health focus is something that can connect to majors and even just interests.

Williams will be lecturing in the Student Union Ballroom at noon Feb. 23 at noon. A Q-and-A session, book signing and a reception will be held in the Student Union Multipurpose room immediately after the lecture.

The reception is open to everyone and will include light refreshments. Williams’ “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting” will be available in the on-campus bookstore for purchase.

Story by Claire Higgins