MILWAUKEE — Black and brown boys, some for the first time, opened up about mental health Thursday.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement hosted a symposium for young men of color to talk real issues.
Some of the discussion was so heavy TMJ4 News was asked to turn off cameras.
The district hosted 100 boys from across six schools to unpack life experiences and mental health. Each session was filled with students actively discussing manhood, self-worth, and handling trauma.
“It’s a group of boys that are trying to be positive and do something different and change the perspective of how they look at us, and stuff like that,” said Nate Cowser, a soon-to-be junior at South Division High School.
TMJ4 News sat with students Jerome and Nate. Both opened up about navigating through life’s journey.
“I would say this would be the first time I’m digging real deep into it,” Jerome said.
“We need more stuff like that, you don’t got to be tough all the time and act hard. Open up sometimes, it’s okay to do that,” Nate said.
A 2020 study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, men received significantly less mental health services than women.
Additionally, Black and Hispanic people received less than white people. Nearly 70,000 people were surveyed.
“We just wanted to let them know that we are here for you guys, and it’s okay to feel a certain way,” said Paul Moga of MPS’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement.
MPS brought in more than 20 volunteer mental health professionals to help kids transition into the real world.
“So, these topics are important because it gives us a sense of, it’s okay to talk about your feelings. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to feel happy,” said Rafiq Wallace of the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement.
As these young men talk through life’s challenges, each one is appreciative of the time invested in their well-being.
“I feel like nowadays it’s hard for young teens to talk to their parents and people, because they feel it’s hard to get people to understand them and where you fit into a society like this,” Jerome said.
You can find more on BLMA's efforts here.