My Mental Health Matters is dedicated to supporting the mental health of Boston’s African and Black communities. The free, public event, which runs from August 19-21 in Waltham, Massachusetts, is the brainchild of Dorothy Ssebakka.
Ssebakka began her career at McLean in 2000, a year after she immigrated to the United States from Uganda. She started out as a mental health specialist and went on to nursing school. Since 2008 she has been a registered nurse at the hospital, where she currently works in The Pavilion and the OCD Institute.
Ssebakka is also a minister and the founder of Women of Purpose International (WOPI-Boston International), an organization that empowers African immigrants as they settle into their new homes in the U.S.
Because of her different roles, Ssebakka is in a unique position to understand the mental health concerns of Boston’s African community and connect people to resources.
Ssebakka is often seen as a trusted resource, with friends and neighbors often approaching her with questions about mental health. Some of her expertise comes from personal experience.
“Back home when I was living there, we lost a brother through suicide years ago,” Ssebakka said. “It was not until later, after I started working here at McLean, I realized the impact untreated mental health can have on someone.”