Atlanta, GA – December 17, 2021— Today, the Satcher Health Leadership Institute’s Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE) at Morehouse School of Medicine, with support from the Wellpath Cares Foundation, announces a five episode webinar roundtable series titled, “Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps”.

Spearheaded by KSCMHE Director and practicing clinician, Madhuri Jha, LSCW, MPH, the series, which begins on January 18, aims to address the landscape of inequities that affect justice-involved individuals. Jha’s extensive background working with vulnerable and high-risk communities drives her unique approach to  the content of each webinar, through a lens of mental health equity and policy.

“As a mobile behavioral health unit director in New York City, I have seen first hand how invisible and neglected this population is by our healthcare system, and yet how much potential there is to reduce recidivism if approached thoughtfully,” said Madhuri Jha. “These conversations will be important to illuminating that potential, especially now, as our society confronts the idea of justice head on.”

Each webinar session will feature expert panelists sharing perspectives on topics including policy implementation and data, behavioral health equity and incarceration, trauma-informed systems for justice-involved populations, re-entry programs and reducing recidivism, and housing access and environmental support systems.

“This is a pivotal time in American history,” said former U.S. Rep. and founder of The Kennedy Forum, Patrick J. Kennedy. “We have a chance to reject the status quo and re-think critical systems in our country that have oppressed those with mental health and addiction challenges for far too long. It’s time to right the wrongs of the past and finally address brain health as essential health.”

“We must also acknowledge that, if not for untreated mental illness, many of our incarcerated persons would not be incarcerated in the first place. This means that society – at – large, as well as the mentally ill stand to benefit from a more aggressive and informed program of diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.” said Dr. David Satcher, former 16th U.S. Surgeon General and founder of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute. “This is especially critical for the African American males who make up such a large proportion of our incarcerated population. We can do better; we must do better.”

Further adding to the stigma surrounding mental health care, the Treatment Advocacy Center reports that overall, roughly 20% of inmates in jails and 15% of inmates in state prisons are estimated to have a serious mental illness (2016). KSCMHE acknowledges that the civil rights movement shed light on the blurred line between criminal legal systems and mental health institutions for people of color and with this program hopes to create a space for thoughtful discussions that can remedy the frequent criminalization of mental illness.

“As the leading provider of healthcare services to the justice involved community, Wellpath cares for some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients in challenging clinical environments.  Our goal is to help them improve their health and quality of life,” said Dr. Thomas Pangburn, FACEP, Chief Clinical Officer of Wellpath, the Wellpath Cares Foundation’s affiliate and major sponsor.  “Wellpath’s vision includes the transformation of our healthcare system to one of greater equity, by delivering hope and healing through public health partnerships.  We are proud that the Wellpath Cares Foundation supports organizations like the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE) at Morehouse School of Medicine.”

KSCMHE will kick off this programming with Session 1: “Policy Implementation and Data Use” on Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:00AM – 12:30PM EST via Zoom. Registration is free and participants can sign up in advance by visiting:

Registration is also open and available for future sessions here:

Moderated by Madhuri Jha, LCSW, MPH, Director of KSCMHE, the first session will feature welcome remarks from founder of KSCMHE, the Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy, Executive Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Author of “The Political Determinants of Health”, Daniel E. Dawes, JD and a dynamic panel of experts including: LaShawn Warren, JD, Chief Policy Officer for Southern Poverty Law Center, Lourdes Rosado, JD, CEO & Senior Counsel for Latino Justice PRLDF, Dr. John Hart, Associate Director at Vera Institute for Justice, and Megan Douglas, JD, Associate Director for Policy, Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity. Participants are encouraged to engage with the panel and upon registration are asked to submit questions for our panelist.

About Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity

The Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE), a division of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, was jointly envisioned by the 16th U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, and former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI). Building on their longstanding relationship and shared commitment to promoting mental health parity and health equity for people living with mental health and substance use disorders, the Center was made possible through a generous endowment from the Kennedy Forum, and matched by MSM’s endowment from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. ;

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