Breanna Reeves | VOICE News

Healthy Heritage Movement, Inc., a local organization created to target and address health disparities within the African American community, is partnering with five local churches to provide access to mental health resources for the Black community.

The National Department of Health Services recognizes July as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month, which is noted on the site as “National Minority Mental Health Month.” While rates of mental illness among Black people are equivalent with those of the general population, disparities exist in regard to access to mental health services, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

The report notes, “African Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care. Only one-in-three African Americans who need mental health care 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 Healthy Heritage Movement and local churches will launch Mental Health Resource Stations at each church to provide widely available access to mental health information and services. Participating churches include Castle Rock Christian Fellowship, Living Way Christian Fellowship, Cathedral of Praise International Ministries, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship and Rubidoux Missionary Baptist Church. 

How Participating Churches were Selected

Clark commends the five churches for leading the way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community and welcomes other churches to join the effort. Churches were selected based on location in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Surveys were used to ensure that a large demographic of women attend, the churches have facilities that can host classes and leaders who are willing to support mental health efforts in their community. 

Ministers from the participating churches introduced the program to their members via announcements and also incorporated mental health topics into their sermons. 

The programs are also offered online and are open to the general public. Any church interested in participating can reach the Healthy Heritage Movement at (951) 293-4240, (951) 682-1717 or visit www.healthyheritage.com

The program is funded by the California Reducing Disparities Project. Healthy Heritage is one of 35 programs being funded through this project under the California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity. Additional sponsors include 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.

Future Initiatives

The 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 traumatic year. 

One key initiative includes a Summer Series of Healing that will feature Black psychologists and wellness coaches discussing mental wellness, healing and self-care. Another initiative will focus on producing a detailed African American Mental Health Resource Guide which will be available in the fall.

Broken Crayons Still Color

Currently underway is the organization’s most recognized program, Broken Crayons Still Color Project, which has served 240 Black women in the Inland Empire since its inception in 2018. The 8-week program was written by Dr. Gloria Morrow and is currently taught by Dr. Candance Elaine, a Certified Clinical Therapist and Personal Transformation Coach.

The Broken Crayons Still Color Project teaches women effective strategies to cope with anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance-use disorders. Participants also learn about prevention, early detection and intervention. The program is being hosted virtually due to COVID-19 and is currently being offered through July 10, 2021. Those interested can visit www.BrokenCrayonsProject.com to sign up for upcoming classes.

Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at breanna@voicemediaventures.com or via twitter @_breereeves.

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