Mental health issues are often a taboo conversation in the Black community, but this pastor wants to do something to change that. Thursday, December 15th, Rev. Michael Walrond, pastor of the historically black church First Baptist Corinthian Church opened the H.O.P.E. Center, a mental health facility designed to serve the Harlem community.
Located just a few blocks from the church, the center, a 700 ft. square mental health facility stands for “Healing On Purpose & Evolving.” The new facility sits at 228 W. 116th Street in the heart of Harlem.
According to the church’s website, its vision is “to provide free mental health resources to the First Corinthian Baptist Church community, and Harlem community at late. This healing space provides therapeutic services through licensed clinicians, who support, respect, and respond to the individual’s power to create the life they desire. Through individual, couple’s and group guidance we companion with persons to balance, wellness, and wholeness.”
The facility plans to provide mental health professionals to support a variety of daily living challenges such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, trauma, sexual abuse and domestic violence, as well as bereavement and marriage/family guidance.
“There’s a normalization of trauma in this community,” Walrond said in an interview with DNA Info. “We don’t engage it, we don’t address it.”
Rev. Kyndra Frazier, will serve as the centers executive director. “I wanted to do more than tell people to pray about it,” she said. “I want to develop new narratives… I want people to be empowered to share their problems.”
Frazer brings to the center a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University with a focus on mental health. She also has previous experience as a social worker in the Atlanta Public School District. Upon opening, Frazer hopes to focus particularly on those who have experienced religious trauma, citing “someone who was gay at a church but attended a church where being gay is condemned” as an example.
The H.O.P.E. Center will partner with Columbia University, working specifically with Dr. Sidney Hankerson who is a psychiatric professor at the school. It is also expected to rely on additional volunteers to help run the program. You can learn more about it here.
What are your thoughts on the new center? Why do you think mental health isn’t discussed more in the Black community?
Mike “Orie” Mosley is a freelance writer/photographer and cultural advocate from St. Louis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from LSU. He is also the co-founder of music and culture website www.theconscioustip.com. In his spare time, he’s probably listening to hip hop & neo soul music, hitting up brunch or caught up in deep conversations about Black music. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_orie or on Instagram @mikeorie