This month’s Community Happenings is brought to you by the team of Dhananji Rathnayake, Ernest Ndayisaba, Germain Mucyo, Madeline Mbong, and Mark Mattos (photographer)

The 4th annual Black History Month Community Wellness Fair was held in Portland on February 29 and in Lewiston on March 1. Cross Cultural Community Services was lead organizer of the event. The organization’s Co-Founder Regina Phillps said, “Our theme this year is Trauma, Grief, Hope, and Joy: Exploring the social determinants of mental healthcare.” The theme was chosen in response to recent world events and the mass shooting in Lewiston last October.

Regina Phillips (L) and Nanette Irabaruta.

According to Mental Health Coalition, a national nonprofit with a mission to end the stigma associated with mental health, “Today in the U.S., more than 7 million Black and African American individuals are living with a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Yet, Black people are less likely to seek mental health support. Many Black people have learned to write off symptoms as ordinary or not mental health-related, which stems from a long history of stigma and fear of further discrimination.”

Angela Okafor