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Organizations work to 'break the stigma' amid Mental Health Awareness Month

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Posted at 11:16 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 09:38:18-04

INDIANAPOLIS — May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

The issue is hitting communities of color harder, with suicide rates in some of those groups rising in the last few years. This is a big reason why some local organizations are working to de-stigmatize the topic.

Shedding light on mental health in marginalized groups is the goal of the practice Connected in Community.

"Everyone who works here is trained in being able to support people who deal with what life is like for people of color, for black folks, for queer people,” said therapist Charla Yearwood, who founded the practice in 2020 during the pandemic.

The practice is unique to the city of Indianapolis and the nation.

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Men's Ministry at New Direction Church focuses on mental health

She and other therapists work to eliminate barriers by focusing on culturally aware care, that includes talking about social issues like politics, police brutality, trans rights and more.

"Having a space that openly says we are inclusive of all people. We are open to having conversations about race, gender, religion as a part of your therapy. It allows people to feel more comfortable, open up and showcase who they are and get the help they need,” she explained.

Yearwood's approach comes as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports a rise in suicide rates among Native American, Black and Hispanic populations in recent years.

Men's Ministry at New Direction Church focuses on mental health

That's why a mental health program at New Direction Church on the city’s east side is also focusing on meeting the need where it is.

"We have a partnership with IU health that comes in once a month for our Men's Ministry,” said the pastor of the church, Kenneth Sullivan Jr. “They may not trust the doctor or feel comfortable going into health care settings, but they are able to come to the church and this is sort of a bridge."

The program also offers a women’s ministry and youth ministry that focuses on highlighting mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Both organizations hope this helps bridge the gap to break down the stigma of seeking support in those communities.

Men's Ministry at New Direction Church focuses on mental health

"We think of it as a stigma or a negative that people are using mental health care, but we want people to use and access mental health care more often, so I see it as a good thing."

Both organizations say they've seen a rise in residents talking about and seeking out mental health care.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with a mental health crisis you can call or text the 24/7 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.