“Black Mental Health Matters” – The Daily Evergreen


Latah County Human Rights Task Force Hosts 28th Annual Community Breakfast Honoring MLK Jr.; promotes equity in mental health


Phillip J. Roundtree was the guest speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Community Breakfast. Roundtree discussed his personal relationship with MLK as well as the importance of access to mental health care for communities of color.

“Community is what helps sustain us, energetically, as we confront systems of oppression,” said guest speaker Phillip J. Roundtree.

On Saturday, January 15, the Latah County Human Rights Task Force hosted its 28th annual community breakfast honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., while reaffirming its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year, the event took place on Zoom and focused on the relationship between mental health and human rights, with guest speaker Philip J. Roundtree. Roundtree has been practicing mental health professionally since 2005 and runs her own non-profit organization, Quadefy, LLC. Roundtree’s TedxTalk “Black Mental Health Matters” has been viewed thousands of times online.

Task Force Chair Joann Muneta said the Martin Luther King Human Rights Community Breakfast began shortly after the organization was founded thirty years ago. The community breakfast was started to protest the growing neo-Nazi presence in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in the 1980s and 1990s.

Muneta said the breakfast brings the community together on the topic of diversity and inclusion.

During the event, Roundtree spoke about her experience reading King’s work. He said he felt like he was “conversing” with King through his book as he navigated King’s journey and was personally connected to his experiences.

“Like him, I found myself struggling with the impact of systemic racism, which exacerbated my depression and anxiety,” Roundtree said. “My body vividly remembers the fear of fitting a person of interest’s description many times during my teenage years. Just thinking about it causes my body to tense and my heart to beat fast. .

In her opening remarks, Roundtree addressed the lack of representation in the field of mental health as well as the lack of mental health resources for communities of color. He said young black men are often misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because only about 4% of psychologists in the United States are black.

Muneta said the topic of mental health is relevant because many Americans suffer from mental distress. The community is under stress due to the pandemic, as well as violence across the country against people of color, as well as the anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6.

During the event, Roundtree cited his four-step approach to social justice in these difficult times, the first of which is the importance of community. Roundtree said in his speech that individuals do not beat institutions alone, which spoke to Muneta on a personal level.

“I’m 86, so I’ve seen a lot of protest movements,” Muneta said. “That’s why I really responded to the speaker who was talking about the need for community. It’s not just a community: [it is] different communities coming together to form a house.

Muneta’s efforts to educate her Idahoan community about equality are inspired by her life experiences. She grew up in a diverse New York City as a Jewish woman who lost many family members to the Holocaust.

She said it is the task force’s mission to be proactive in advocating for human rights in the community. The task force is circulating a letter about anti-Semitism in Boise, Idaho, and is planning a Martin Luther King Jr. art and essay contest in February.

At the community breakfast, two people involved in the task force received the Rosa Parks Human Rights Achievement Awards for their dedication to social justice in the community.

Linda Nickels received the Community Award for her work at the Moscow Food Bank, and Ellie Pimentel won the Junior Award for starting a PERIOD chapter at Moscow High School to promote menstrual fairness.

The community breakfast concluded with its first-ever Q&A activity, facilitating a discussion between Roundtree and the 67 attendees. During the activity, Roundtree said he found the strength to openly discuss his mental health by speaking his truth and realizing “it can’t be weaponized.”

“When I speak, it is with the spirit of Dr. King. It is with the spirit of the ancestors who are not there that no one will ever know their name. It’s that spirit of memory that will get us where we need to be,” Roundtree said.


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