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Black Mental Health, Collective Trauma Among Topics For Virtual Wellness Event

The second Well Fest presented by Soulside Healing Arts will feature 21 virtual sessions Saturday and Sunday.
Soulside Healing Arts
The second Well Fest presented by Soulside Healing Arts will feature 21 virtual sessions Saturday and Sunday.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic increasing the need to focus on mental health and community healing, a Peoria nonprofit will present a two-day virtual wellness seminar.

The Soulside Healing Arts yoga studio will hold its second “Well Fest” this weekend, with 21 online presentation sessions scheduled between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“We still want to give people the opportunity to learn about some of the local wellness resources safely, and give some of our presenters an opportunity to present what their expertise is and what their offerings are,” said Soulside Executive Director Hannah Ramlo.

The featured presentation is a 90-minute panel discussion titled, “Collective Trauma and How to Heal,” scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday. Panelists include Tahari Allen, outreach director for the OSF Strive Clinic for trauma recovery; professional health counselor Harmony Goorley; and clinical social worker Rachelle Veasley, director of Mitigation Services for the Federal Defenders of New York.

“I'm really interested to see what they bring to the forefront with their experience and what they think is the most tangible takeaways,” said Ramlo. “As we organized this, we as a group kind of discussed, ‘How do we give people real tangible steps?’ Because so many of us – and so many of the people who might be attending – really might be in a very dark place, and so how do we give people a little bit of hope and the strength to understand that they can heal when things can feel so, so heavy?”

Allen also will lead a discussion on mental health disparities within Black culture in a 1 p.m. session on Saturday. The program aims to address some of common taboos within Black culture that can pose barriers to improving mental health.

“She sees daily individuals who are healing from or reeling from the effects of trauma, and her background is in counseling,” Ramlo said of Allen. “This is of interest to her to kind of talk about the stigmas within the Black community of seeking help for mental health issues.

“So that session will be geared towards individuals in the Black community as well as people in the helping professions, like counseling. Especially with everything we've gone through in the past year, the need for mental health assistance throughout all of the community is great, but especially for the Black community.”

Ramlo said the first Well Fest, held in 2019, featured vendors and demonstrations in the studio parking lot, and the hope was to make it an annual event. But the pandemic forced them to scrap plans for the event last May. She said she hopes to return to an in-person celebration next year.

Other conversation topics this weekend will include herbal medicine, intuitive eating and strengthening the immune system. The NAACP's Peoria Branch is a presenting partner, and participation in all Well Fest events is free; guests are able to purchase donation packages featuring such items as custom postcards and a local vegan cookbook. Registration and additional information are available at www.soulsidehealingarts.com/wellfest.

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Joe Deacon is a reporter at WCBU.