A group of District civic leaders, clergy and community organizations announced yesterday that they have assembled a coalition to help heal a city they say is in the throes of a "mental health crisis" after the trial of Mayor Marion Barry.

The organization, called the Action Coalition for Healing, Hope and Unity, plans to hold forums during the next several months to examine issues that go beyond the mayor's case, including racial polarization, poverty, homelessness and drug-related violence, organizers said.

Although the coalition was formed in response to "the much-publicized events of the past nine months, including the Mayor Barry trial," coalition members would not comment as a group about the mayor's actions or address whether Barry should run again for office.

Anita B. Shelton, executive director of the Mental Health Association of D.C., went furthest in her comments during the coalition's news conference. "We feel the healing process would be better if the mayor would take care of his own personal healing and allow the community to take care of its. It would be difficult if there is a new political campaign mounted by the mayor," she said.

When asked how the religious community views the possibility of a convicted drug user running for office, the Rev. Rodney L. Young, interim executive director of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, said his organization has no official position.

"It is our hope to move forward in terms of making sure there is dialogue among all residents of the city and the surrounding communities," Diane F. Montgomery, acting president of Washington Urban League, said during the news conference.

The coalition intends to hold public forums in each ward of the city at least through January. The first forum is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church in Northeast.

Coalition members talked about the need for residents of the Washington area, particularly young people, to avoid getting the wrong message from the Barry verdict. Barry was convicted Friday of a single misdemeanor count of cocaine possession out of 14 criminal counts after a two-month trial.

"The message we hope that goes forth is that young people would not get a mixed signal, not to take the verdict and feel that is permission" to use drugs, Young said.

Included in the coalition are representatives of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the D.C. police department, the Mental Health Association of D.C., the Washington Teachers Union, the Hechinger Foundation, the Poor People's Development Foundation and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

In the past few months, Shelton said, residents have suffered stress, individually, and depression, collectively, as a result of the Barry case. She said she hopes the coalition will help redirect those emotions into creative energy that will help revamp the city's social service system, provide care for the homeless and improve public housing.

Carol Schwartz, a coalition member who served on the D.C. Council and Board of Education, said she has been discouraged watching political leaders divide the city, then try to bring it together.

"I hope our coalition will monitor these kinds of things," Schwartz said. "When people try to divide and when it becomes politically convenient {to unite the city}, they should have their hands slapped."