New program coming for children to cope with depression, stress

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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A former Demopolis native is bringing a new chapter of her organization, A Friend of Mind, to the Black Belt area with their first meeting in Demopolis on September 12.

Dr. Sherilyn Garner is the founder of A Friend of Mind. This Birmingham based nonprofit organization uses yoga and meditation to help children cope with depression and stress. Garner dealt with depression as a teenager, and because she lived in rural Alabama, she did not have access to medical treatment. As a result, she spent eleven years of her life without getting the treatment she needed. In 2016, Garner took control of her life and began seeing a counselor and regularly using yoga and meditation. Two years later, in July of 2018, Garner founded A Friend of Mind.

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Garner wants to bring a chapter of AFOM to the Black Belt region as a way to give back to the community.

“I was born and raised in the Black Belt region, and I just want to give back to the community that helped shape me into the person I am today,” said Garner. “Being able to provide these free mental health resources to adolescents and their families means a lot to me, and I’m so happy I am able to do that.”

Garner hopes the new chapter of AFOM will have a positive impact on the Black Belt region, and that it will help struggling families.

“I think the impact the chapter will have is increasing the number of adolescents who are introduced to yoga,” said Garner. “We want to be proactive and give these tools to kids who may be dealing with stress, depression, PTSD, and other mental health problems.”

Garner wants to see the youth in the Black Belt utilize these tools in schools, at home, extracurricular activities, and become more mindful of their actions. She also wants to start more conversations on mental health in the Black Belt region, particularly in the black communities where mental health is often viewed as a taboo subject. She believes that with the chapter community council in place, the community will begin to have more open and honest conversations about the importance of mental health.

During this first meeting, community council members will get an introduction about the organization. They will review the roles and responsibilities of the council for the Black Belt region. There will be a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training that will teach people how to identify a suicidal person’s signs and know when to intervene.

The AFOM event will also be following CDC guidelines for social distancing and sanitation. Masks and hand sanitizer will be distributed as people arrive. Everyone will be asked to maintain at least six feet distance between each other. AFOM will also provide pre-wrapped breakfast and lunch for attendees.

To learn more about, donate to, or volunteer with A Friend of Mind, visit You can follow them on Facebook at A Friend of Mind – Black Belt Region and Instagram @A Friend of Mind. If you would like to join the community council and are unable to attend the meeting on Saturday, send Sherilyn Garner an email at

The event will be held at The Garage at 117 East Washington St, 36732, and will begin at 9 am and end at 1 pm. The suicide prevention training will start at 11 am.