Celebrating the 23rd Annual Central Texas African American Family Support Conference

A Message From Our CEO

Racism, discrimination, and inequity can significantly affect a person’s mental health. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population and only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. One study showed that 63% of Black people believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness. A lack of access to culturally competent care, mistrust in the American medical system, and a generational stigma related to recognizing mental health crises have created an environment where disparities in mental health care are far too common.

Every February, Integral Care hosts the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference (CTAAFSC) to share information and resources as well as build a community of support. Established over 20 years ago, CTAAFSC was the first conference in Texas and only the third in the United States to focus on the healthcare needs of African Americans. The conference was born from a desire to confront the systems and cultural bias that have resulted in African Americans facing barriers to healthcare access.

Last year’s conference boasted over 760 attendees, two keynotes, three panel discussions, 19 workshops and live entertainment. Attendees included mental health specialists, people with lived experience, members of the faith community, and business, non-profit and community leaders.

This year, we come together on February 7th and 8th at the Palmer Events Center for the first time in three years, continuing online access as well. The 2023 conference features two keynotes, 25 workshops, live music and entertainment. CTAAFSC speaker topics include parenting, faith and mental health, stigma around mental health, health equity, substance use and much more. Registration for this hybrid event is still open. In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about this year’s keynote speakers and a few of the workshops.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Rheeda WalkerDr . Rheeda Walker, Professor of Psychology and Licensed Clinical Psychologist, University of Houston
Dr. Rheeda Walker is a Professor of Psychology and licensed clinical psychologist whose program of research emphasizes two understudied areas—suicide science and African American adult mental health. This work began at Florida State University where Dr. Walker earned a Ph.D. in Psychology (Clinical) in 2002. At the time, the suicide death rates were escalating for young, Black adults. Communities throughout the United States are chronically underserved in part due to social and cultural barriers. All of Dr. Walker’s scholarly work has focused on suicide and related emotional health challenges toward the primary goal of developing culturally relevant models of well-being. The National Institutes of Health, the University of Georgia Research Foundation, the Southern Illinois University Foundation, and the South Carolina Research Foundation funded this research.


Thabiti BooneThabiti Boone, Former Obama White House Fatherhood Initiative Representative, New York Knicks
Thabiti Boone is an inspirational public figure, speaker, a college basketball Hall of Famer, author, leader, minister and humanitarian. He worked with President Obama’s Administration as a Representative for the President’s Fatherhood Mentoring Initiative where he helped spearhead the first White House convening on Black Men and Mental Health and increased health care enrollment for Black men across the country. As a member of the New York Knicks, Boone plays a key role with corporate and community partnerships, fan engagement initiatives and leading diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the Black community. He was a distinguished professor at New York Theological Seminary, noted lecturer at Columbia University and Advisory Board Member for the Obama Foundation. He is an international officer for his Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. As a Humanitarian, he founded Rising to the Occasion, a program that adopted schools in his former New York City Brooklyn Neighborhood, serving thousands of young students, promoting academic achievement, life skills, career enrichment and more.


Substance Use: A Conversation Around Substance Use, Mental Health and the Black Tax by Asha Creary, Clinic Director, Crave Counseling

This workshop will focus on the immediate and long-term impacts of substance use and how it impacts the mental and emotional health of the Black Family supporting a person’s journey with substance use.


Birthing While Black: A Qualitative Exploration into the Experiences and Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Black Maternal Health and Care in Texas by Jaylen Wright, The University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D. Candidate, Health Behavior & Health Education

According to the CDC, the death rate of Black-birthing persons in the U.S. is 3 to 4 times the rate of non-Hispanic white pregnant-capable individuals and remains one of the widest of all racial disparities in reproductive health. Despite continued advancements in medical technology and reproductive care, the novel COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications of psychological distress among Black communities and especially for Black-birthing people. This study explored the intersecting dynamics of pregnancy, race, gender, sex, and socioeconomic status, and provides insight into the unique physiological and emotional experiences of stress, coping, and support felt by Black birthing people in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Youth Supporting Youth: Innovations in Near-Age Peer Support by Elliott Phillip Niblack (MHPS, RSPS, ECSS), The D. Wood Foundation, Chief Equity and Education Officer

The D. Wood Foundation began a pioneering peer support program in 2022 targeting young adults in Historical Black Colleges and Universities and Austin Community College. The program uses the Jones-Niblack Peer Support Framework to deliver, engage, and evolve first-of-their-kind services where youth are trained and trusted to give support and meet the needs that they identify for themselves. Learn about the program’s origins, the transition from framework to implementation and more from the program creator and coordinator, Elliott Phillip Niblack.

Special thanks to our incredible Central Texas African American Family Support Conference Planning Committee, our sponsors, and public and private community collaborators who make this conference what it is today – a community hub for people seeking information, support and resources.

I hope to see you next month at the conference.

David Evans
Chief Executive Officer

Transparencies Archive

Past Transparencies sorted by year


December 2022: Looking Ahead to the 88th Legislative Session

November 2022: Supporting Children’s Mental Health

October 2022: Working Toward Racial Equity

September 2022: Coming Together on the Road to Recovery & Suicide Prevention

August 2022: Expanding Access to Critical Mental Health Support

July 2022: Supporting BIPOC Mental Health through Data

June 2022: Celebrating Pride Month

April-May 2022: Looking Ahead to Mental Health Month

March 2022: Honoring Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

February 2022: Strengthening Our Network of Mental Health Support

January 2022: Looking Ahead in 2022


December 2021: Celebrating Progress & Innovation in 2021

November 2021: Action Steps Toward Preventing and Ending Homelessness

October 2021: Language Access & Racial Equity

September 2021: Treatment & Addiction Psychiatry at Integral Care

August 2021: Returning to School plus the Legislative Wrap-up

July 2021: Creating Lasting Change for BIPOC Mental Health

June 2021: Facts & Resources This Pride Month

May 2021: Mental Health Month

April 2021: How do we help Austinites experiencing homelessness?

March 2021: Growth and Positive Change

February 2021: How Do We Create a Better Future?

January 2021: Looking Ahead to the Legislative Session


December 2020: Supporting Your Mental Health This Winter

November 2020: How do we rebuild health and well-being during a pandemic?

October 2020: With Collaboration Comes Innovation

September 2020: Success Stories of Recovery and Suicide Prevention

August 2020: A Back to School Season Like Never Before

July 2020: Minority Health Disparities & COVID-19

June 2020: Stronger Together

May 2020: Surviving and Thriving During Uncertain Times

April 2020: Persevering During COVID-19

March 2020: Collaborations and Initiatives to Improve Health for the IDD Population

February 2020:Solutions to Health and Health Care Disparities

January 2020: Sucicide Prevention a Local Effort


December 2019: A Year of Thriving Care & Collaboration

November 2019: Teamwork and Collaboration Impact Homelessness in Travis County

October 2019:Making Strides for World Mental Health

September 2019: Taking Steps to Recovery Support

August 2019: Working Together for Child & Youth Mental Health

July 2019: Legislative Wrap-Up – Some Bipartisan Wins for Healthcare

June 2019: Strengthening Access for Veterans and the Entire Military Family

May 2019: Women and Mental Health

April 2019: Legislative Session Status Report

March 2019: Making Opportunities for Recovery More Accessible

February 2019: Recovery is Possible

January 2019: Stronger Outcomes Through Collaboration

December 2018: Looking ahead to the 86th Texas Legislature

November 2018: How Tech is Changing the Face of Mental Health

October 2018: A Few Questions Could Help Save a Life

September 2018: Anyone Can Save a Life

August 2018: A Milestone Moment

July 2018: Equity in Mental Health Care for All

June 2018: Expanding Services for Veterans


May 2018: Your Mental Health Toolkit

April 2018: Time of Terror Calls for Increased Emotional Support

March 2018: Stopping the cycle of incarceration for individuals with mental illness

February 2018: Equity in mental healthcare for everyone

January 2018 : Improving Mental Health Through Partnership & Collaboration


December 2017: Strength Through Community

November 2017 : Healthy Lifestyles Improve Well-Being

October 2017 : National Child Health Day

September 2017 : Strengthening Families and Communities

Highlight: Central Texas African American Family Support Conference (CTAAFSC) Planning Committee

The annual Central Texas African American Family Support Conference (CTAAFSC) is only made possible through the hard work of the CTAAFSC Planning Committee. Throughout the year, this group of dedicated volunteers gathers to put together this special conference. The Planning Committee sources workshop topics, plans the entertainment, fundraises and spreads the word about the conference. The committee consists of a diverse group of advocates, health professionals and people with lived experience – many of whom have been with the conference since its inception in 2000. The conference would not be what is today without their care and commitment. We thank you for all that you do to bring this incredible event to our community!

Highlight: The Power of Storytelling

Ahead of CTAAFSC, we sat down with board member Deborah Smith, who is a content curator and documentary film producer. Smith has worked for the Texas Facilities Commission Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program and is a 2016 Central Health Community Health Champion. We talked about Black mental health, what she’s most looking forward to at this year’s conference and the power of storytelling.

Q: Each year, the conference committee works diligently to create a conference that is insightful, supportive and fun. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?

Smith: “Last year’s conference was virtual, so having the opportunity to attend in-person this year is quite exciting for me. I love going and physically being in community, because it’s not necessarily about the message you’re going to hear, it’s the people you’re going to be sitting next to or standing in line with. You get to hear their stories up close and personal and connect.”

Q: In the Black community, there’s a stigma associated with discussing mental health and seeking mental health care. In your opinion, how does this conference challenge that stigma?

Smith: “The stigma is alive and well, which is very sad to report. I feel conversations around mental health should happen every day and should become just as common as asking someone, “Hey, how was your day?,” and it just doesn’t happen. The Central Texas African American Family Support Conferences is igniting that conversation.

I know for me, growing up, conversations around mental health never happened because most Black youth, including myself, were taught to believe those weren’t “our” problems. We’ve now started to realize, with increasing numbers of Black youth being criminalized for mental health reasons, we must make mental health our concern. It’s paramount that my kids not only have advocates within the community, but within the system. Igniting those conversations is so needed. We need to be having conversations more often, and not just within a community setting, but in our home.

Q: As a documentary film producer, you’re intimately familiar with the power of storytelling. One of our favorite aspects of this conference is getting to hear people share their own story. How important has it been to you to share your story? How do you believe storytelling can have an impact on mental health in the Black community?

Smith: When we share stories, not only the triumphs, but the trials as well, we not only liberate ourselves, but we empower others to do the same. We often judge a person’s glory without ever hearing their story. And truth be told, we are all broken, we are all bearing a cross and we are all more alike than we realize. I believe storytelling can be a catalyst for change. For there to be a real impact on mental health for today’s youth, owning our stories at all levels of success is critical.

Q: What would you say to someone who was on the fence about attending this year’s conference?

Smith: “If you’re on the fence, I would encourage you to consider not just what you can gain from the experience, but what your presence can give, whether that’s feedback or community or conversation. It’s not a matter of we hope you can come, but you need to come. We need you. I want all communities to really feel welcome to come to this conference because we are learning from one another. How beautiful is it to learn from others with different mindsets? This is a transformative experience to really come and share and to receive and to give. I hope see you there!”

What's New

M3 Story on KUT and the Austin-American-Statesman

Last month, KUT and the Austin American-Statesman interviewed Ashley Sharma and Tony Nunez of the Mobile, Medical and Mental Health Care (M3) team to highlight M3’s incredible work in the community. M3 is a collaboration between Integral Care, CommUnityCare, and Dell Medical School. We are so proud of this team! Check out KUT’s heartwarming piece and photos from the Austin American-Stateman’s article.

Did you hear our ad?

Did you hear our end-of-year campaign on KUT between December 22nd and December 31st? We want to hear about it! Let us know via this quick survey.