Harlem HOPE Center breaks stigmas surrounding mental health in black community - Metro US

Harlem HOPE Center breaks stigmas surrounding mental health in black community

Many people who battle mental health issues face stigmas that could prevent them from seeking the help they need, but one city organization is at the forefront of changing that for residents of Harlem — and, perhaps, beyond.

The HOPE (Healing On Purpose and Evolving) Center, a mental health facility created by Harlem-based First Corinthian Baptist Church, is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, and looking back, Rev. Kyndra Frazier, its managing clinician, has been astounded by the center’s community support and influx of those seeking its services.

“I already knew that the state of mental health in the black community was impoverished because of many stigmas that we fight against to seek support, but people are flocking to this space in a way that I haven’t experienced before,” she said. “In many cases, this is their first time disclosing trauma, and they’re speaking in what’s not only a clinical space but also a spiritual space. Those are huge protective factors for the folks who come here and are looking how to journey through their depression, anxiety and PTSD.”

While some innovators, what the HOPE Center calls its patients, address opioid addiction, the main issues the facility has treated through its individual, couples and family counseling are depression, anxiety and PTSD.

For Chris, 37, a father of three who became an innovator soon after he was released from prison, the center has helped him reintegrate back into his family and community. 

“I came to church, and they were talking about how mental health is just as important as physical, financial and spiritual health,” he said. “I think it was the perfect time because I was really trying to heal. It’s helped me confront the issues that I’ve had.”

More than 350 innovators have come to the HOPE Center so far, ranging in age from early 20s to late-50s, and about 40 others are currently waitlisted. Services are free for up to three months.

Eventually, Frazier hopes the HOPE Center becomes “a model for other faith-based and community-based organizations for what it looks like to expand mental health resources in other boroughs and cities,” she said.

But until then, she’ll continue welcoming innovators to “come in here and sit with me as their therapist, who happens to be one of the pastors at the church, which doesn’t mean I have all the answers, but I’ll journey with you to discover all the answers already living inside you.”

Visit hopecenterharlem.org for info.

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