Radio Facts:

Marketing Maven Kelli Richardson Lawson Creates a Safe Space for Parents Nationwide

RadioFacts: Kelli Richardson Lawson, the founder of the award-winning marketing agency, JOY Collective, has launched “The SonRise Project,” a new non-profit organization for parents of children struggling with mental illness and addiction issues.  The SonRise Project provides a safe, confidential space for parents to learn from licensed experts and other parents going through similar situations.  The organization was born out of Kelli’s personal journey with her eldest son that began when he entered high school. 

“My family’s journey over the past three years has been traumatic as we watched our smart, charismatic, loving son take a downward spiral with mental illness, addiction, and defiance issues that changed our lives,” said Kelli.  “The lack of understanding, the stigma in communities of color about this disease, and the rise of teen addiction to marijuana and nicotine require heightened education, understanding, and a compassionate place to share one’s journey.  That just didn’t exist for us, and we wanted to do something to help ourselves and help other parents who face similar challenges.”

While searching for answers, they learned about the startling statistics regarding the increasing rate of depression, suicide, and mental illness in recent years.  The exponential increase among Black children and adolescents is alarming. In 2017 the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study on suicidal behaviors among high school students in the United States; key findings include:

  • Suicide attempts among Black boys increased significantly between 1991 and 2017
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth 12 to 18 years old, and Black children aged 5 to 12 have a suicide rate two times higher than that of their White counterparts

Communities of color often consider mental illness a ‘taboo’ topic.  Many people suffer silently, reluctant to admit that they may need help because of the stigma of this disease, especially in communities of color.  It is common for friends and family members to avoid conversations about their loved one’s clear signs of depression, anxiety, or addiction.  The SonRise Project focuses on Black and Brown children, and facilitates open discussions and awareness about mental health throughout the year, not just during Mental Health Awareness month (May).   

The SonRise Project hosts free confidential weekly “SonRise” calls at 9:00 am EST on Sundays, where parents can learn from a community of experts while sharing their own challenges with one another.  Each call features distinguished experts in the areas of mental illness, parenting, or wellness.  Previous guests include therapist Danielle Boucree, clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Fleming McGhee, educational and family consultant Sharon Green, clinician and entrepreneur Dr. Julie Lopez and “The Doc-N-da-Dude” — Dr. Kendell Jasper, a clinical psychologist, and his brother, Kainon Jasper.

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