Sept. 30: ‘Sowing Seeds of Healing’: A Symposum on Mental Health & Racism at the Doubletree

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Pastor Renee Rouse is one of four guest practitioners who will be speaking on “Sowing Seeds of Healing,” a symposium addressing mental health and racism on Sept. 30 at the Doubletree Hilton. The symposium is organized by NH Black Women Health Project.

MANCHESTER, NH – Pastor Renee Rouse anticipates the Sept. 30 Symposium, “Sowing Seeds of Healing,” at the Doubletree Hilton will be more of an open dialogue than a lecture, as it should be. It’s a topic that deserves to be aired in an atmosphere of love and healing.

“We’ll be trying to look at it from the viewpoint of how do you reach out meaningfully to people of African descent and European descent in the same room,” Rouse says. “Racism is a public health crisis here in New Hampshire and everywhere in the world, but we’re starting here in New Hampshire by reaching out and giving people some hope.” 

For many Granite Staters whose ancestors arrived to the U.S. from Africa, South America and many island nations under divergent circumstances, there are layers of racism and discrimination based on outward appearances and centuries of cultural isolation that have manifested in anxiety, shame, mental health issues and even self-hatred.

“How do you get up every day and do all the things you need to do bearing the weight of the anxiety you carry?  What are the things you never did in your life because you believe the lie that you’re not qualified or able? It’s because racism taught you this lie,” Rouse says.

“We have to undo that and unlearn some things. In the area of mental health, unfortunately, there are things that keep us from relearning how to do things because we believe the lie that this is how I’m always going to be and how life is always going to be, so we’re not learning a new way to cope. As a pastor, I’m looking at the whole person, from the inside out, whereas racism has taught us to look from the outside only, and that’s unfortunate.”  

Despite her own many accomplishments as a Black woman in a profession that is predominantly white and male, Rouse feels it, too. 

“I’m still rising above it every day. I  have to remind myself that my ancestors before me did a lot of work to move me into the place I’m in and, on the days when it feels like it’s just too hard, I have to remind myself what they went through and all they did to succeed so that I can be in the place I’m in,” Rouse says. 

“I try to focus on who it is I am making room for in 50 or 100 years from now, that’s what I have to keep reminding myself of,” she says. 

Similarly, attendees of the Sept. 30 symposium can consider it an awakening – and the start of a journey that continues with the footsteps of all those who will come after. 

“What are you and I doing today to leave footprints for those who will follow? There were women, especially, who struggled,” Rouse says. “But they struggled for a reason because they were thinking about how their struggle would make a way for future women. That’s what the symposium is for, to get people to realize there are women coming after us.”

How we press on, how we raise our children, work at our jobs, put food on the table – how we succeed is a story of hope we must tell to our children and grandchildren. 

“But we have to be willing to tell one another those stories and build each other up. Some of us will do it from a spiritual or literary component, or through art and music, or designing clothing – whatever way we tell the stories, we can’t quit – and that’s part of our mental health, reinforcing that we are resilient women and we come from a long history of resilient women,” Rouse says.

Making that connection mentally, with ancestors and generations yet to be born, is essential. 

“We must willing to dig deep and find out the stories of those who came before us and then share that with our granddaughters and nieces and nephews and pass it on and on, so those stories never die. That’s what builds up our courage and fortitude and helps us be resistant to anxiety,” Rouse says. “It’s what can give us strength to go forward rather than hold us back.”

Sowing Seeds of Healing: A Symposium on Mental Health & Racism Sept. 30 at the Doubletree Hilton.

The Symposium

Click here to register online.

Join the NH Black Women Health Project for a day of learning, listening and lifting each other up.

“Sowing Seeds of Healing” is a symposium focused on the need for healing and understanding around mental health and racism through an interactive discussion to be held Sept. 30, 2023, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Downtown Manchester.

Cost: $50 suggested donation – includes lunch, raffles, T-shirt and healing swag.  There are limited scholarships available thanks to sponsors Haymarket Peoples Fund and the YWCA.

The Practitioners

Experience and Learn about Healing modalities from exhibitors:

  • Victory Women of Vision
  • Balebe Beading
  • Bodhi Wellness Counseling Center
  • New England Chapter of N’COBRA
  • Manchester & Nashua NAACP Branches

The event was organized by NH Black Women Health Project Symposium Committee:

  • Devona Warner, NHBWHP board member
  • Rep. Linda Gathright, D-Nashua, NHBWHP advisor
  • Bahati Benjamin, committee member and exhibitor
  • Sandra Plummer, board member
  • Brenda Lett, board chair


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!