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Milwaukee Man Creates Safe Haven For Black Men

One man has made it a mission to get more Black men to speak openly about their mental health.

Artemius Johnson of Milwaukee developed a monthly meet-up called Talk Trauma. Once a month, on a Tuesday night, Johnson invites Black men in the community to talk about anything on their minds, according to spectrumnews.

Johnson emphasized that if they don’t want to speak, they can sit in the supportive group.

“I call it the safe spot for Black men, because helping them out is definitely helping the community I live in,” Johnson said.

At times, dozens of men show up, while other times, just a few come. Still, regardless of the number of attendees, the most important part for Johnson is that men in Milwaukee know he’s always available to talk and listen.

This was started three years ago by having live discussions on Facebook. And Johnson noticed a common thread among his friends.

“A lot of us were struggling with the same thing and nobody said anything about it,” he said.

He remembers his own struggles years ago.

“One of the most real thoughts I ever had in my life was standing at that cliff saying to myself, regardless of what was going on, that everybody would be OK if I’m not here.”

Artemius Johnson

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among Black men aged 15 to 24 according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI also finds that Black men are statistically less likely to seek help for mental health challenges. When they do, they are more likely to receive inadequate care.

“People don’t talk about how often Black men take their own lives,” Johnson said. “We don’t talk about those numbers.

He said too often, Black men feel like society does not value their lives, let alone their feelings.

“Men don’t cry,” Johnson said. “Men don’t deal with their emotions. Men don’t actually talk about how they feel. It’s always a sign of weakness. There’s an entire generation of men who raised men just like that.”

Talk Trauma is a way of trying to change that narrative.

“That’s what this is all about,” he said. “Really addressing those things that we have hid in our closets, that we have swept under the rugs, that we have put in the furthest recesses of our mind because we don’t want to have to face it. We don’t want to have to take off the masks.”

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