BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  A group of teenagers in Baltimore is educating their friends on issues of mental health and trauma within the African American community.

Trauma, depression, anxiety, systemic racism and its impact on Baltimore’s young black men and women are the focus of a group named Healing Youth Alliance.

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“It gives us a safe space for us to communicate with each other and also express the things that we’re going to,” said James Gaither Jr., Healing Youth Alliance Ambassador.

James Gaither Jr. is one of 10 Baltimore teens who went through its 24-week training program at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

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“Teaching people from all across the world that, mental health, especially black mental health is a very serious topic that needs to be conversated about even more,” said Gaither. He’s now presenting as part of a virtual conference drawing in teenagers from across Baltimore and beyond.

According to Healing Through Action, “Seven million African Americans reported mental health problems this year, now that’s reported, keyword, just imagine how many people are going around undiagnosed.” Data that’s backed by mental health experts like Dr. Kyla Liggett-Creel.

“All of the young people can speak from personal experience about the healing work that they’ve done and also to young people and youth-serving organizations about how to support healing in the African American young community,” said Dr. Liggett-Creel.

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For more information visit: www.ssw.umaryland.edu/sphere. To watch the virtual conference, visit: https://youtu.be/BIrJaN12aX0.

Rachel Menitoff