Every year, millions of Americans from all racial and ethnic backgrounds struggle with mental health illnesses. While African Americans experience mental health illnesses at about the same rate as White Americans, they are far less likely to receive mental health care services and disproportionately endure a higher burden of disability from mental health disorders according to the American Psychiatric Association. In fact, only one in three African Americans who need mental health services receive it.
Phyllis Clark, Executive Director and Founder of the Healthy Heritage Movement, is working to address the mental health disparities within the African American community in the Inland Empire. The organization has partnered with five predominately black churches in honor of African American Mental Health Awareness Month in June to launch Mental Health Resource Stations at each church to provide easier access to mental health information and services.
The installation of the Resource Stations will be completed by the end of June and participating churches include Castle Rock Christian Fellowship, Living Way Christian Fellowship, Cathedral of Praise International Ministries, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, and Rubidoux Missionary Baptist Church. Phyllis commends and honors the five churches for leading the way to reduce the stigma in the African American community and welcomes other churches to join the effort.
There are many reasons why African Americans face barriers when it comes to accessing and receiving treatment including poor physician-patient communication resulting in misdiagnosis, discrimination resulting in services not being offered and/or inadequate information provided, mistrust for the healthcare system, a lack of diverse providers, a lack of inclusion in mental health research, underinsurance, and cultural stigmas.
Healthy Heritage Movement is committed to launching several initiatives over the next few months to reduce the barriers preventing African Americans from accessing mental health services, and to help the community heal from what has been a most traumatic year. Key initiatives include a Summer Series of Healing, these events will feature black psychologists and wellness coaches discussing mental wellness, healing and self-care. The second initiative is to produce a detailed African American Mental Health Resource Guide which will be available in the fall.
Another key initiative underway is the organization’s most recognized program, Broken Crayons Still Color Project, which has served 240 African American women in the I.E., since its inception in 2018. The 8-week program written by Dr. Gloria Morrow and currently taught by Dr. Candance Elaine, a Certified Clinical Therapist and Personal Transformation Coach, teaches women effective strategies to cope with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use disorder. In addition, participants learn about prevention, early detection, and intervention. The program is being hosted virtually due to COVID-19 and is currently being offered now through July 10, 2021. Visit www.BrokenCrayonsProject.com to sign-up for future classes!
Healthy Heritage Movement is sponsored by the California Reducing Disparities Project, Inland SoCal United Way, Nurturing You Women’s Health & Wellness, J.W. Vines Medical Foundation, and the City of Riverside. If you need mental health referrals or for more information about Healthy Heritage Movement, please contact (951)293-4240 or (951)682-1717 or visit them on the web www.healthyheritage.org.