Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Xi Omega Chapter Held Mental Health Awareness Panel

Washington, DC’s Key Mental Health Policy Experts and Practitioners Engaged in a Community Dialog About How Mental Health and the Law Intersect

Washington, DC, November 10, 2017 --( On November 3, 2017, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Xi Omega Chapter held a fireside chat at Reed Smith LLP to inform, advocate, and illuminate issues and challenges related to mental illness in the DC community, the role of the police, and the public policy implication. The major goal was to educate, expand community outreach and awareness of services for families affected by mental health disorders.

The fireside chat, titled, "The Intersection of Mental Health and the Law," brought mental health practitioners from different aspects of the treatment continuum, judges, state administrators and family members to engage in a meaningful dialogue to inform, listen and positively impact the creation of policies that better the outcome for families and people who live with a mental illness.

This community event allowed family members and survivors to give firsthand accounts about their experiences with mental illness.

Speakers included Alpha Kappa Alpha member Dr. Barbara Bazron, Deputy Secretary of Maryland's Behavioral Health Administration; Jean Harris, Executive Director of NAMI DC; Judy Harris, Attorney, ReedSmith; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Xi Omega Member Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler, DC Superior Court; Melinda Hasbrouck, JD, MPH, NAMI DC; Dr. Jimmy Ibikunle, MD, Psychiatrist; Laura Rose, JD, Mental Health Specialist for DC's Public Defender Service; Kimberly Clark, JD, Trial Attorney; and Natalie M. Tao, the mother of an 18-year-old recently diagnosed with mental illness.

“In some jurisdictions the prisons have become the largest provider of mental healthcare,” remarked Dr. Jimmy Ibikunle, a DC area psychiatrist. Dr Barbara Bazron, Deputy Secretary of Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration spoke on the issue, “When you go to the doctor and they check your physical condition, the doctor should also be checking your mental condition.” Moderator Theresa Donaldson-Depass, retired Program Director for DC’s Department of Mental Health concluded, “the whole family suffers with mental illness; we must increase family support networks and link families with other families who have dealt with the same issues.”

About Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated – Xi Omega Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908. It is the oldest Greek letter organization established by African-American college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 290,000 members in 1,006 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa and Dubai. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, L.H.D., Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-letter organization for African-American women.” For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and its programs, visit

Xi Omega Chapter is the oldest and largest graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Washington, DC. Established in 1923, the chapter has a membership of more than 400 professional women, who serve the District and surrounding communities. Xi Omega’s signature service programs focus on educational enrichment, health promotion, family strengthening, environmental ownership, and global impact. These programs are the cornerstone of the AKA international theme, “Launching New Dimensions of Service.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Xi Omega Chapter
Breahna Blakely