Episode 11 – Let’s Get Into It: Your Mental Health Matters



It’s May, which means its Mental Health Awareness Month! On this episode President, Jonathan Rapping and Executive Director, Ilham Askia are speaking with three phenomenal African American women who specialize and focus on the mental health of all marginalized communities. Each of these women spoke about how to improve the negative stigma about mental health issues within Black and brown communities, numerous tips on how to assist someone having a mental health crisis, and how these tips can improve the communities we live in. Tune in!





Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble (Dr. Alfiee) is an internationally recognized scientist, author, speaker, and media contributor. As Founder of the AAKOMA Project, Inc. (an innovative 501 (c)(3) mental health nonprofit) she translates complex scientific concepts (developed over 25+ years as a disparities researcher at Duke and Georgetown Psychiatry) into useful, everyday language for communities of color.

A sought-after mental health expert, Dr. Alfiee’s media work includes hosting her video podcast “Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee,” which is currently airing Season 2, and addresses mental health issues in BIPOC youth, young adults across all marginalized identities (i.e. LGBTQ+ and disabilities). She regularly appears on media platforms like CNNNBCRefinery29Black EnterpriseDr. OzShape MagazineRoland Martin UnfilteredAreva Martin’s Special ReportNational Press FoundationNPR, and others. Widely recognized for her ability to draw in audiences and inspire, she embodies her belief that there is enough love and light (informed by strong culturally relevant science) to help everyone achieve. #optimalmentalhealth

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Shanti Das is an accomplished entertainment industry veteran, speaker, author, and Philanthropist.

Shanti worked in the entertainment business for over 25 years. Her music industry career (from intern to Executive Vice President) included positions at Capitol Records, LaFace Records, Columbia RecordsSony Urban Music and Universal Motown where she worked directly with some of music’s top talent like OutKast, Usher, Prince, TLC, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu, and more.

As a result of Shanti’s extensive community work in the 2000 decade, she decided to establish her very own nonprofit, The Hip-Hop Professional Foundation, Inc. The foundation was rebranded under the name Silence the Shame, Inc., the mental health movement that lead the way since 2016.

Shanti has suffered from depression/anxiety over the years and has also experienced love ones affected with mental health disorders.

Silence the Shame, Inc. has received global awareness and has become a commonly used hashtag to normalize the conversation in America. Shanti’s foundation curates community conversations, offers wellness trainings, creates content and broadens awareness & education around mental health and wellness. (In 2019, Silence the Shame was awarded one of five awards by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation for Advancing Minority Mental Health).

In addition to running her nonprofit, Shanti formed a new brand called Yeah Wellness! She speaks live at companies/universities sharing her inspiring story and now facilitating virtual webinars around mental wellness with licensed mental health clinicians. Companies include: Warner Chappell PublishingNational GeographicSB Projects, Translation, NBASony ATV, Sony Music UK, Warner MediaWarner Music GroupDef JamDillard UniversitySyracuse UniversityAlabama A&M and more.

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Zanele Ngubeni is currently a Supervising Attorney for the State Court at the Atlanta Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office in Atlanta, GA. Prior to that, she was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. She has the honor of being the first to hold this newly created position for MOPD. In addition to her responsibilities as D&I Director, Zanele is a member of the MOPD Gideon’s Promise Training Faculty, Leadership Team, and assists the Recruitment Director with hiring.

For over 12 years, Zanele zealously represented indigent clients throughout the South. She started as a law clerk in public defender offices in Georgia and Tennessee where she discovered some of the skills specific to poor people charged with crimes in that region. She then went on to serve as a Staff Attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana shortly after Hurricane Katrina, and during the introduction of its first state-wide public defender system.  In 2009, she returned to Atlanta, Georgia to fight for the rights of clients in the Complex Division of the Superior Courts of Georgia where she represented clients charged with serious violent felonies; including but not limited to murder, vehicular homicide, rape, child molestation, and human sex trafficking.

She is a graduate and faculty member of Gideon’s Promise, Inc. where she trains public defenders, public defender leaders, and serves as a mentor for their nationwide mentorship program.  She has served as faculty for Georgia’s Transition into Law Practice Program (“TILPP) from 2016 – 2018.  She is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Public Defenders, the Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and a member of the Georgia Bar.  She is a also a member of the newly founded Black Public Defender Association sponsored by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

She received her J.D. from the University Of Tennessee College Of Law in 2007, and her B.S. from Alabama State University in 2003.

Zanele is an Alumni of the GACDL Bill Daniel’s Trial Advocacy Program (2010), a graduate of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (2009), a graduate of Gideon’s Promise (Class of 2007),  and a member of the 2019 class for the Maryland Equity and Leadership Program.



  • Why people of color struggle with talking about mental health?
  • How do we change the narrative that currently encapsulates mental health?
  • Are there any correlations between mental health challenges and mass incarceration among Black and brown communities?

Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast can be found on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud,  YouTube and on the Gideon’s Promise website.



Dr. Alfiee M. Ireland-Noble, eds. Community Mental Health Engagement with Racially Diverse Populations. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 2020. Print.

Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice (2020) by Jonathan Rapping.