Medivance Billing Service, Inc. launches ‘Erase the Stigma’ Campaign
By Mysia Anderson Intern Writer
Medivance Billing Service, Inc., one of south Florida’s largest minority employer, a company who prides itself on “setting new industry standards” in the behavioral, mental, and general healthcare industry hosted a community roundtable discussion on how the minority community must take action on eradicating the stigma associated with mental and behavioral health conditions.
Before an audience of approximately 200 on Sept. 1, 2012 launched a community base educational and outreach roundtable to empower the comunity with vital information on the stigma associated with addictions and mental health issues that plague the African American community.
“For decades, the mental and behavioral health related issues have always been an area that’s had a stigma in our community and today we are starting the erasing of that stigma process,” said, Neisha Zaffuto, President of Medivance Billing Service.
Inside the auditorium of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, program participants had the chance to hear different perspectives from a panel of experts that included, Judge Giselle Pollack, Rev. Dr. W. Edward Mitchell, Professor Myron Burns, State Attorney Michael Satz, Dr. Vikki Ann Samuels, Guy Wheeler, and John Giordano. The program was moderated by the publisher of the Westside Gazette, Bobby R. Henry, Sr., and Mental Health Advocate and published author, Terri M. Williams of New York.
“Sometimes we have a tendency to have media borne opinion of illnesses such as, substance abuse and mental health issues,” Mitchell said.“And it builds up animosity toward people who have these issues and it makes them an underclass that should be disposed of by neglect and ignorance. And I’m here to express that they are human too and just need help.”
With no stranger to community outreach and empowerment activities, the former local NAACP branch president pleaded his case for the need to initiate something to bring awareness to the community, so that how the “Erase the Stigma” campaign got created. To have a national impact associated with the project, Medivance’s CEO William McCormick invited the renowned mental health advocate, public relations guru and best-selling author Terri M. Williams as a special guest. “In my opinion, Terrie Williams is a leading voice that’s connecting people from all walks of life on the understanding and need of why we must seek help now on dealing with depression, addictions and other behavioral health conditions”. “I admire her commitment and through her book Black Pain, It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, is where I personally stepped out of my black cloud”, said McCormick.
Williams set the tone for the roundtable discussion by asking the audience a simple question: “How are you?” And after the audience called out in unison the socially acceptable answer, “Fine,” she proceeded to say, “liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Her purpose was to show that people, especially in the Black community, do not reveal their true feelings of what they feel internally. She even called herself an imposter, when she shared her testimony of her life of anxiety and depression, before she addressed her own mental health.