Silent Cry, Inc. is a nonprofit human rights organization that takes a holistic approach to aftercare from mass incarceration, gun violence, and trauma. Founded by internationally-renowned advocate Shawanna E. Vaughn, Silent Cry works to support children and families impacted by poverty-related trauma. The team provides resources to those currently and formerly incarcerated, striving to help people heal through the process of self-development and overcoming grief. Silent Cry additionally raises awareness of Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder, calling for comprehensive prison and policy reforms across the country to address training for core competencies in all trauma-informed mental healthcare.

Silent Cry Inc. And Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and Silent Cry, Inc., is raising its voice alongside others in this battle to change the way that society looks at and treats mental health at every level, especially where it touches those who are incarcerated or who are formerly incarcerated. We want to help end the stigma that mental illness holds, and increase funding for programs that provide holistic care for those who are dealing with mental illness and support for those who love them.

Knowledge is power! Here are some facts about mental health in America:

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and ability to relate to others and daily functioning.

Many factors contribute to the development of a mental health condition, including life experiences (such as trauma or a history of abuse), biological factors, and family history of mental illness.

Mental health problems are not rare: more than 50 million Americans struggle with mental illness of some kind.

These range from depression to anxiety to more severe issues such as PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia.

Mental illnesses can affect people of any age, race, religion, or income.

Mental illness is a problem that can afflict anyone, including our youth--1 in 5 young people (age 13-18) has or will develop a mental illness in their lifetime. 1/2 of all mental illnesses show early signs before a person turns 14 years old, and 3/4 of mental illnesses begin before age 24. Youth depression rates have risen from 12.9% to 25.2% from pre-pandemic to 2021.

The symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other illnesses can impact performance in school, at work, and can interfere with personal relationships.

This means that mental illness impacts how we function at every level, just like physical illness does.

Most Americans lack access to adequate mental health treatment.

Insurance often does not cover mental health treatments at the same levels as physical health care, which leaves many people to suffer their illnesses either untreated or undertreated, or to treat themselves with street drugs, leading to addiction. 54.7% of American adults with mental illness did not receive care in the last year.

More than 1 in 4 adults living with serious mental illnesses also struggle with substance abuse.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are almost 3 times more likely to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.

An estimated 44% of those in jail and 37% of those in prison have a diagnosed mental illness; the rate of undiagnosed mental illness is likely much higher. The conditions of incarceration are highly traumatic, and can lead to a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder called Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder, or PTPD, which is currently not covered by health insurance or recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Silent Cry Inc. Addresses Mental Health And Trauma In Local Communities

Understanding mental illness is the first step in removing the stigma associated with this misunderstood epidemic. The next step is actual care, and fighting mental illness involves holistic programs that address it at every level—not just helping those who are ill, but also healing the communities in which they reside. Trauma is a leading cause of mental illness, and Silent Cry, Inc., is a grassroots leader in addressing trauma in local communities on multiple fronts, in multiple ways.  

Silent Cry is currently raising funds to channel into major projects such as our Harvesting Hope farm project in Michigan, which will provide mental health and other services to two incredibly vulnerable demographics: formerly incarcerated individuals and the “aging out” population of foster care youth. We are also putting together a pilot program for a “Trauma Bus” which will provide mobile trauma-informed care, community resource referrals, and other services to local residents.

How Can You Support Silent Cry Inc. And Improve Mental Health Awareness?

With your support, Silent Cry will be able to help support the mental health and other basic needs of thousands of Michiganders! You can support us by being a direct donor through our website, purchasing our products through our shop, and even by pledging support through our 5K Run/Walk at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on May 20!

You can also support Silent Cry’s work to raise awareness and improve mental health awareness by supporting our legislative efforts. We have written two bills, one in New York and one in Michigan, codifying Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder as a mental illness required to be entered into the DSM and as such to be recognized and treated by the mental health and correctional systems. These bills would also require the correctional systems to provide proper mental health services for incarcerated individuals with Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder upon reentry and reintegration into society upon release. Even though I had not ever written legislation before, I researched how to do so, and I did it—and now these bills are pending before the legislatures of both of these states. You can lend your support for these efforts here, supporting the Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder ShawannaW76337 Bill.

Thank You: Government Support For Silent Cry Inc.

Silent Cry wishes to acknowledge the following individuals for their help and support:

Representative Stephanie A. Young (MI)

Representative Donavan McKinney (MI)

Representative Jimmie Wilson Jr. (MI)

State Senator Jabari Brisport (NY)

Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages (NY)

Representative La Shawn Ford (IL)

Legislative Aide Demarquin Johnson for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA)

Join Silent Cry Inc. on May 20, 2023 at Detroit's Belle Isle Park for the 5K Run/Walk! For more information about Silent Cry and how to get involved with community advocacy, visit Support the Post Traumatic Prison Disorder legislation by clicking here, and donate to Silent Cry's other programs by clicking here.

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Shawanna Vaughn

Donavan McKinney

Jimmie Wilson Jr.

Jabari Brisport

Michaelle Solages

La Shawn K. Ford


(C) Silent Cry, Inc.