Black Physicians of Utah host Back-To-School Mental Health Day

Aug 21, 2023, 9:00 AM

Dr. Erica Baiden, member of the Black Physicians of Utah. (Black Physicians of Utah)...

Dr. Erica Baiden, member of the Black Physicians of Utah. (Black Physicians of Utah)

(Black Physicians of Utah)

SOUTH SALT LAKE— Parents, teens, and clinical workers gathered at the South Salt Lake Community Center to learn and discuss the mental health issues children and teens face during back-to-school season.  The Black Physicians of Utah held what they hope to be their annual Back-To-School Mental Health Day.

Returning to school can be exciting, but it can also be a lot of pressure. Students face academic and social pressure during the school year, and for some, the idea of going back is too much.

Founder of BPOU Dr. Richard Ferguson, says suicide ideations and attempts spike before the school year normally starts.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports nearly 20% of high school students have thought about suicide. 9% have attempted suicide at least once.

Dr. Ferguson adds that suicide is the third leading cause of death among black men. And the first for Native American men.

Raising awareness

“We want to inform parents and leaders in schools that we as BPOU are resources,” Dr. Ferguson said. “But we also want to target more black and marginalized groups, as those children are less likely to seek help and sometimes less likely to receive help.”

The organization holds Black men and women mental health forums to encourage discussion at all ages.

Dr. Richard Ferguson and Salt Lake City Council member Natalie Pinkney.

“There’s an unmet need to address mental stigma and mental disorders that culturally, and for generations, have not been addressed,” Dr. Ferguson said. “There’s generational trauma that many black families and underrepresented marginalized families have experienced.”

He hopes events like this will provide parents and educators with the tools necessary to facilitate conversation.

“There’s an increased sense of cultural competency and people are more likely to open up to someone that looks like them and has maybe had a shared struggle,” Dr. Ferguson said.

More information and resources are available on BPOU’s website.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (1-801-583-2500).

Related: US suicides hit an all-time high last year


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Black Physicians of Utah host Back-To-School Mental Health Day