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Wellness center offers mental-health services specific to people of color

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Tuesday, November 7, 2023   

No Indiana county has enough mental-health professionals to meet the local needs according to the Rural Health Information Hub. Add to that an overall mistrust of the healthcare system by many people of color, and there's an unmet need that one Indianapolis nonprofit hopes to help fill.

Nonprofit community center Flanner House has opened a facility geared for the mental-health needs of Black Hoosiers.

Morningstar Afrocentric Wellness Center Director Bwana Clements said he and Flanner House Executive Director Brandon Cosby envisioned opening the center after seeing that young Black men seemed unresponsive to traditional therapeutic models.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we had an agency to prevent the challenges and difficulties of having to retell your story, over and over, to people who may or may not understand it?" Clements asked.

He said the center offers individual, couples and family counseling, as well as bereavement therapy for young people who have suffered a loss due to violence or trauma.

The American Psychiatric Association has found that, with Black patients, physicians are 23% more verbally dominant and engaged in 33% less patient-centered communication than with white patients.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration points to reasons why Black Americans and other minority groups don't always seek help for mental health. There's still a stigma around getting this type of care, but lack of access and insurance costs also are factors.

Clements said the center was intentionally designed for people to feel at home.

"There's something about being able to walk into a space, seeing people that look like yourself, and knowing that they understand without you having to explain," he added.

Clements said anyone is welcome at the Wellness Center, no matter their race or sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association says other common barriers to seeking help include concerns about privacy, lack of knowledge about available treatments, and denial of mental-health problems.


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