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Wellness center aims to improve mental health of Black Indianapolis residents

Flanner House opened Morningstar Afrocentric Wellness Center in October
morningstar afrocentric wellness center
Posted at 8:35 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 23:23:06-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Mental health struggles do not discriminate, but there are discrepancies on who is seeking out mental health care. A new organization hopes to remove that barrier for Indianapolis' Black community.

Morningstar Afrocentric Wellness Center opened in October on the corner of 23rd Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. The center is focused on providing therapy and social work for Black people who feel neglected or hopeless.

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"There's some stigma and apprehension in our community about addressing mental health," said Morningstar executive director Bwana Clements. "We're doing innovative, down-to-Earth, trauma-informed, culturally appropriate therapy with them."

Morningstar has a team of eight therapists. Clements said they have remained busy ever since the center opened its doors because of the scope of their care.

"People right away know that they're in a place where they can take a deep breath," Clements said.

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The facility is across the street from the Flanner House, a non-profit community organization which oversees Morningstar.

Flanner House executive director Brandon Cosby said the idea for Morningstar's concept is rooted in conversations he had with Clements while the two were working together at Shortridge High School.

"We were lamenting the frustration of the systemic response we saw to mental health needs and kept saying, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could just create a place?'" Cosby said. "It's a place to talk about what it means in the context of embraced and affirmed blackness where you and everything you bring with you is welcomed and affirmed."

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Clements included amenities in Morningstar such as a kitchen and a music studio to help people open up in a way they never have before.

He said its all worth it if he's able to get Black Indianapolis residents to be honest with themselves.

"What we want to do is use those as carrots to get them to care about their social and emotional health," Clements said. "We are experts of our own people. We're not sorry about using our common knowledge and common experiences to bridge that gap."