Birmingham councilwoman in Boston speaking at national public health summit

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Birmingham Councilwoman Sheila Tyson is in Boston as a speaker at the American Public Health Association's Annual Meeting.

The conference brings together thousands of national and international doctors and health professionals annually.

Tyson's presentation delivered Wednesday focused on mental health, depression in urban and low income communities, and her collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Ryals School of Public Health.

Tyson partnered with UAB professors Robin Lanzi and Susan Davies in initiative called "My Sisters' Keeper." The program was designed to implement and evaluate mental health and depression support for mothers.

"Too often, moms - especially low-income, working moms - don't receive any kind of support or treatment," Tyson said. "Robin and Susan showed unbelievable concern for these women, many of whom were carrying the weight of an entire household alone."

More than 175 women participated in the project, which included screenings and treatment for depression. The project was funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials stressed the essential role of community partners in public health.

Tyson is affiliated with several initiatives including those of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Jefferson County Health Department, Smoke Free Alabama, and Cities for Life. Tyson is also an activist in the effort to fight the closing of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

Tyson was earlier nominated as a White House 'champion' for public health.

Tyson told that she was honored to be among the group of doctors and top medical professionals. She called the conference part of her role to both share and gather information that will benefit her constituents in Birmingham.

Following her presentation Wednesday, Tyson attended a meeting of the Boston City Council at the invitation of Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council and currently, its only female member.

Another woman, Michelle Wu, also won a seat on the council this week and will join Pressley on the dais.

Tyson presented the Council with letters from Birmingham Mayor William Bell and Council President Maxine Parker. And as an ambassador from Birmingham, Tyson gave her Boston counterparts a lapel pin with Birmingham's seal.

Pressley was also given a gift basket from Dreamland Barbeque, including a bottle of the landmark restaurant's famous sauce.

"I wanted to give her something that really represents us as Alabamians," Tyson said. "It was such a nice gesture for her to invite me to their meeting, and to spend some time exchanging ideas about community development that I can bring back to Birmingham and to District 6."