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Kids’ Minds Matter Hosts ‘Why BIPOC Mental Health Matters’ on Facebook Live, July 27

Kids’ Minds Matter hosts “Why BIPOC Mental Health Matters” on Facebook Live July 27 at 7 p.m. This topic addresses Black, Indigenous People and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month in July that acknowledges generations of trauma and socioeconomic disparities linked to mental health concerns in youth.

During the program, Antoinette Kruse, Kaleesha Bent, Belinda Bruster, Tesharia Folkes and Danesha Simmons will discuss current research on minority mental health and the impact of health disparities, how to understand and acknowledge behaviors for communities of color and how local mental health providers are serving diverse communities, including children of color. The virtual series is hosted by Kids’ Minds Matter via their Facebook page.

Speakers include:

  • Antoinette Kruse is the founder of a nonprofit organization, a researcher and a registered clinical social worker with extensive experience working with individuals who have serious emotional disturbances resulting from events like sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking and natural disasters.
  • Kaleesha Bent is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a mental health counselor at Lee Health. Bent has worked for Head Start as a Family and Community Engagement Specialist (FACES), as well as an intensive in-home therapist with families who have been reunified through the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  • Belinda Bruster is a licensed clinical social worker, currently clinical supervisor with Centerstone of Florida and owns Work Place Training Solutions. A published author, her research focuses on subject areas in which minorities are disproportionately affected (foster care, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, and African American, Latino and Haitian women).
  • Tesharia Folkes is a pre-licensed associate counselor with Shannon Wiseley & Associates Maternal Mental Health Counseling with specialized training in reproductive loss and maternal mental health. Her professional goal is working with minority families to help combat the mortality rate of Black pregnant women and their children.
  • Danesha Simmons is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in private practice with Lifescape Counseling Services. As a National Certified Counselor, Simmons holds value in collaborating with community partners to speak and promote social change. As a Certified Trauma Professional, Simmons believes that the individual is a part of a greater system and shares the message of cohesion and support, especially for minority mental health and systematic needs.


“Our goal with Mental Health Mondays is to provide information, discussion and resources about mental health issues to the entire community,” said Dr. Paul Simeone, vice president and medical director of behavioral health at Lee Health. “In the current environment, the dialogue about mental health is especially critical given the growing emphasis on racial equality and the disproportionate number of the minority community impacted by COVID-19. We are glad to give community partners a platform for this relevant topic.”

The Mental Health Mondays series is streamed live every Monday from the Kids’ Minds Matter Facebook channel (Facebook.com/KidsMindsMatter). Each week, experts speak on a different aspect of mental health and answer questions from viewers. Community advocates, partners and viewers are encouraged to create “watch parties” to join the experience and share the live stream with friends and family. Those who are unable to view live can later watch a video of the presentation on Kids’ Minds Matter’s Facebook. To learn more, visit KidsMindsMatter.com/MentalHealthMondays.


About Kids’ Minds Matter

Founded in 2016, Kids’ Minds Matter is a unified movement in Southwest Florida dedicated to advancing pediatric mental and behavioral health services. By developing clinical pathways to screen and treat patients, enhancing public awareness through education, and lobbying for systemic change and sustainable funding, Kids’ Minds Matter aims to align mental health providers, local agencies, the judicial system, law enforcement, schools and faith-based organizations. Kids’ Minds Matter is managed through the Lee Health Foundation. Philanthropic support for Kids’ Minds Matter has allowed Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to: implement a tiered model of care that clinically aligns community, inpatient and outpatient care; hire additional psychiatrists, child advocates and other mental health professionals; offer Mental Health First Aid training to local pediatricians, emergency service providers and others who work directly with children; renovate an outpatient center in Fort Myers where a child’s needs can be addressed in a therapeutic setting; and launch a first-of-its-kind Pediatric Digital Cognitive Behavioral Health diagnostic and treatment protocols interlaced with Tele-Psychology support to treat anxiety, depression and trauma. Most recently, Kids’ Minds Matter introduced mental health care navigators into Lee and Collier County schools who will help families find resources and care to address their child’s mental healthcare needs. Please visit KidsMindsMatter.com or call 239-214-0921 for more information.

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