Did you know that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, including serious depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide? African Americans are also more likely to experience certain life circumstances that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition, including homelessness and exposure to violence. With this overwhelming threat to the African American community, perhaps what’s most tragic are the cultural barriers that often preclude African Americans from discussing the topic and seeking qualified professional help. These social barriers are deeply engrained and have been resistant to change across generations.
With the rising rate of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors related to mental health within the African American community, we need to enlarge the platform and opportunities to discuss it in a meaningful way. This talk is yet another battle against the social norms that have proven to have deadly consequences among African Americans. While highlighting aspects of the African American journey, the opportunity for enhanced discourse is relevant for all audiences. Dr. Shaun Fletcher is currently an Assistant Professor at San José State University in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Shaun has vast communications experience with corporate and non-profit organizations including Apple and Volkswagen Group of America, for whom he has provided counsel on strategic messaging, executive communications, employee engagement and diversity and inclusion. Dr. Fletcher also established a private consultancy where he works to upskill corporations around cultural diversity awareness, retention, and communications aimed at solving the employment diversity crisis in Silicon Valley.
Dr. Fletcher started his career with the Center for Health Futures within the Florida Hospital health system, working to resolve issues related to cultural competency among health practitioners. His research and interests include diversity & inclusion, unconscious bias, career and life resilience, and mental health within underrepresented communities. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at