Celebrating a Pioneer of Equitable Mental Health

When 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in 1955, it sent shockwaves through the entire African American community. Over 75 years later, the events of that day still gnaw at our nation’s conscience, especially in the face of continued police brutality against unarmed Black civilians like George Floyd. For generations, racially-based trauma has been passed down and through ethnic communities in which mental illness is still taboo.

That’s why Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month exists–because minority groups have never been given the space to properly process their trauma. They’ve been expected to repress it and move on, which is the opposite of healing.

Thanks to mental health champions like Bebe Moore Campbell, minority mental health is finally part of the public discourse.

Bebe’s writing was some of the first to shed light on the generational toll of racial trauma. Her 1992 book, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, based on the lynching of a fictional stand-in for Emmett Till, explores the ripple effect of his murder on subsequent generations of his family. Her 2003 Children’s book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, looks at the life of a young girl whose mother struggles with a mental illness.

We hope that Bebe’s legacy will inspire you to use your voice, ignite your passion for change and help shape a world where everyone’s mental health matters.

To learn more about Bebe Moore Campbell, check out this article article her life and lasting impact.

Mental Health Champions: Meet Sheandinita Dyson

As a part of its series profiling Mental Health Champions, Sheandinita Dyson, McClendon Center’s President and CEO, was recently interviewed by Authority Magazine.

A proven, compassionate, and respected leader, Sheandinita has extensive compliance and management experience across the behavioral healthcare industry and a nearly two-decade-long track record of successfully helping to meet the needs of some of DC’s most vulnerable residents.

She has ascended the leadership ranks since joining the McClendon Center over a decade ago, becoming the first woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1980.

Get to know Sheandinita and learn more about our work across the Washington, DC community in this Authority Magazine Q&A profile

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Mental Health is Health. Help Us Spread the Word.

Mental Health Awareness Month - T-shirt Campaign

If you’ve ever struggled with a mental illness, you know how challenging it can be to overcome. Imagine if you were also experiencing homelessness, joblessness or another health issue such as drug addiction or diabetes at the same time. That’s what over a third of McClendon Center’s clients are facing today.

Challenges this complex and deeply-rooted don’t have a one size fits all solution. What’s needed is whole person-centered care that’s culturally appropriate. And, that’s why McClendon Center does what it does—so that no one in our community gets forgotten.

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and the need for bold and innovative solutions has never been more urgent.

Will you pitch in?

Sheandinita Dyson Appointed McClendon Center’s President & Chief Executive Officer 

WASHINGTON — The McClendon Center’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Sheandinita Dyson as McClendon Center’s full-time President and Chief Executive Officer. A proven, compassionate, and respected leader, Dyson is the first woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1980.

“We are thrilled that Sheandinita will continue leading the Center as its full-time CEO,” said Caitlin Gritt, McClendon Center’s Board Chair. “At a time when it has never been more important to invest in mental health care,she brings tremendous heart, passion, and experience to this role. For over 14 years, she has proven herself to be a resilient, compassionate, innovative leader.

“I have great confidence that the Center will continue to thrive as a result of her wisdom, insight, and strategic vision, which will guide the Center as we build partnerships, ensure our resources, and strengthen our commitments to our clients. She has spent years in the field developing an understanding of the community’s needs and countless hours cultivating the Center’s team of professionals. I have no doubt that Sheandinita, together with our staff and clients, will create a stronger, healthier DC.”

In Dyson, the Board has placed the Center in trusted and experienced hands. She is a highly-engaged, respected, and effective leader who understands the McClendon Center, its mission, its people and operations inside and out.

Dyson, who has ascended the leadership ranks since joining the Center over a decade ago, has extensive compliance and management experience across the behavioral healthcare industry. She originally joined the McClendon Center in February 2008, beginning her tenure as a Community Support Specialist, before quickly assuming a supervisory role as Team Leader.

Prior to her previous and most recent role as Senior Director and Chief of Staff, her management portfolio included compliance and training, as well as a periods serving as the Center’s Interim Executive Director.

“I am truly humbled and honored by the Board’s decision and vote of confidence,” said Dyson. “This is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. The Center’s mission to support and empower people on the journey to becoming their best selves isn’t just something we hope our clients achieve. I, too, hope to grow into my best self as a leader who helps others achieve the health and happiness they never dreamed possible.

“For nearly 15 years, the McClendon Center has been my home. There’s no other place I know of that takes such great care to empower clients on their own healing journeys. I’m excited to continue, along with our committed and passionate team, living the McClendon Center’s mission and vision during this critical time of need for our community.”

Dyson is a proud 2007 alumna of Howard University. She resides in Clinton, Maryland with her three daughters.

About McClendon Center

Founded in 1980, McClendon Center is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, community-based health provider in the heart of Washington, DC. For over 40 years, it has provided critical programs and services to District residents with mental and behavioral health challenges, empowering them to live more independently and enjoy an increased quality of life. McClendon Center is certified as both a Core Services Agency and a provider of Rehabilitation/Day Services. It has been accredited by the Joint Commission since 1999, a prestigious credential not shared by any other behavioral health provider in the District.

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New A1C Initiative Meeting the Community’s Health Needs

Becoming one’s best self requires addressing both physical and mental health concerns. That’s why we believe so firmly in the importance of whole-person-centered care.

Our new A1C Initiative has been addressing barriers to achieving overall health and well-being (e.g. transportation cost and access, mental health symptom interference, poor patient-provider relationships, etc.) since July 2022.

That’s why A1C is meeting people where they are–at home.

Our team of specialists is helping 170 historically non-compliant community members complete in-home bloodwork kits to assess diabetic health. To close the loop, lab results are sent by our Medical Clinic team directly to community members’ primary care physicians.

McClendon Center Partners with DC Peace Team to Host Community Safety Training

We were excited to partner recently with the DC Peace Team (DCPT) to host a recent community safety and nonviolent intervention training for McClendon Center staff.

The DCPT facilitates group conversations in restorative circle formats to address areas of change such as; learning how to advocate for change within organizations and within our communications with clients.

The goal of this training was to create space for our staff to share their experiences and gain education on how to stay safe, while working independently within the community.

Many thanks to Jamal Jones and the team at DCPT for leading these engaging sessions!

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