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Women's Mental Health Conference Hosts #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke, April 23

February 24, 2021

The 2021 Women’s Mental Health Conference at Yale (WMHC) will host Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, as its keynote speaker.

The two-day conference, to be held virtually, will kick off with a keynote Q&A with Burke during Psychiatry Grand Rounds on Friday, April 23. Burke will also partake in a virtual breakfast meet and greet with a select group of trainees and students immediately preceding her talk.

Sofia Noori, MD, fourth-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry and co-founder of WMHC, said conference leadership chose to approach Burke to be the keynote speaker because they wanted someone who could speak to psychiatrists from an integrative perspective about the multiple epidemics – including the COVID-19 pandemic and racism – currently ongoing in the United States.

The 2021 conference will center on the theme of racial justice, healing, and the impacts of COVID-19 on women. The keynote Q&A will focus on Burke’s lived experience as a sexual assault survivor, what has helped her and other women heal from trauma, and what it takes to build a movement.

Burke, a civil rights activist from the Bronx, started the #MeToo Movement in 2006. A survivor of sexual assault herself, Burke made it her mission early on to work with young women of color to change their lives. Burke developed the nonprofit "Just Be" in 2003, which was an all-girls program for young black girls ages 12 to 18.

Burke became a vocal spokeswoman for the #MeToo Movement when ‘me too’ took on a life of its own, as survivors of sexual violence stepped forward to tell their stories on social media. Time magazine dubbed Burke and other ‘me too’ activists “the silence breakers,” naming them (as a group) the 2017 Time Person of the Year.

WMHC is the first academic and trainee-led women’s mental health conference. It was founded by Noori and co-resident Stefanie Gillson, MD, and is organized by a team with specialties across medicine, psychiatry, public health, business and law.

The conference is dedicated to improving the wellbeing of women through better training of future health care professionals. It seeks to center issues of women’s well being in the male-dominated health care professions.

The conference is open to all regardless of Yale affiliation and is free to attend, but donations are encouraged. The conference is accepting proposals for 20-minute panels and workshops on a variety of topics in women’s mental health. Because the organizers feel that the work of women’s mental health professionals too often goes undercompensated, all speakers and panelists accepted to the conference will receive an honorarium. Session proposals may be submitted on the conference website by March 7, 2021 through an online form.

To learn more about the Women’s Mental Health Conference, visit WMHConference.org.

Submitted by Robert Forman on February 24, 2021