The Central Texas African American Family Support Conference (CTAAFSC), a densely-packed two days of informative workshops and stirring keynote speeches, achieved its goal of sharing quality information about African American behavioral health issues with consumers, services providers, faith community leaders and other key stakeholders. The event took place on Feb. 28 and Mar. 1 in Austin, Texas.

CTAAFSC, hosted by Austin Travis County Integral Care and sponsored by community partners from the public and private sectors, offered attendees a wealth of expert insight into the unique challenges confronting African Americans who utilize the behavioral health system in Texas. These challenges include stigma, the need for greater cultural competency among mental health workers, structural racism, substance use and the lack of mental health knowledge among clergy.

The Hogg Foundation, through its support of the Austin Area African American Behavioral Health Network (AAAABHN), has been supporting education and awareness about mental health in African American faith communities. In fact, the AAAABHN sponsored the specialized track for clergy leaders at the CTAAFSC. One result was the Thursday afternoon panel discussion titled “Creating a Compassionate Culture: Embracing the Mental Health Needs of the Congregation,” in which panelists candidly shared their personal experiences with mental illness and recovery. There was also a special session for preachers’ wives that focused on their unique challenges and offered advice on helping church members experiencing emotional distress. The AAAABHN also hosted a networking reception following the first day of the conference.

Hogg’s former executive director, Dr. King Davis, director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, moderated the opening session of the conference.

Outstanding individuals were honored with the Garnet F. Coleman “Eternal Flame” and Richard E. Hopkins “Torch” awards for their leadership in the area of behavioral health. This year’s Eternal Flame was Dr. Exalton Delco, husband of former state representative Wilhelmina Delco, who was honored for his commitment to individuals and families affected by behavioral health issues.

A full recap of the conference can be found here.