By Dianne Anderson
Long before Black healthcare was trending, Phyllis Clark was literally on a roll taking mobile units packed with doctors and nurses to do on-site vital testing, diabetes and cancer screenings, helping the community rise above the inequalities.
Hundreds flocked to her events, and families brought stacks of hard copy information and resources back to their community.
“I have always felt that if you educate the women in the household, you educate the family on any topic,” Phyllis Clark, executive director and founder of the Healthy Heritage Movement.
Her upcoming Broken Crayons Still Color, a Healthy Heritage project, is reaching out to Black women with an eight-week mental health series that she hopes will shed light on the different facets of mental illness. Dr. Candance Elaine, a certified clinical therapist, is teaching the program.
She wants women to know that they have a place to connect to tune in, and recognize their emotions.
Clark, who serves both San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said has educated over 250 women in the past two years, and said it’s all about learning and growing through the process. Internationally known clinical psychologist, Dr. Gloria Morrow, created the project under her program.
“We have a tremendous program and curriculum created by Dr. Morrow that we disseminate at our site at a church. We go through PTSD, depression, stress, substance disorder, and their lived experience,” Clark said.
They are also unveiling their partnerships with local Black churches. Mental Health Resource Stations will now be available at Castle Rock Christian Fellowship, Living Way Christian Fellowship, Cathedral of Praise International Ministries, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, and Rubidoux Missionary Baptist Church.
Coming out of COVID, Clark said that everyone has a story. For the rest of the year, the focus is on healing.
“Everybody is feeling something,” she said. “We’re all feeling some kind of way. We’re concentrating on events that heals from here on out.”
Amani Muriuki, the spokesperson for Healthy Heritage, said at this point, the project is necessary, especially coming out of the pandemic.
“ There’s a lot of people who are not in a really good place right now with all of the things that have happened,” she said.
Trying to get back to normal and past the trauma, she said they hope to show that there are places of physical and health and wellness support available to the community.
“Maybe they didn’t know how to access it before, that they can know where to get help. Overall, that’s the biggest thing for me, especially because they are targeting African American women specifically,” she said.
The goal of the Broken Crayons program is to service 25 women within their 8-week program to share and learn, and receive personalized attention. The women will have access to mental health professionals and counselors.
“So many people’s lives have shifted and changed,” she said.“I’m sure there’s a lot of people that can really benefit from the resources, and what this organization is putting together with mental health.”
In California, cities and counties are now in the process of deciding how to spend $27 billion in the recent American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding.
Researchers are also looking into the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in the study, “Coronavirus Trauma and African Americans’ Mental Health: Seizing Opportunities for Transformational Change.” It highlights how Blacks were hindered during the pandemic from getting the services they needed.
They also experienced higher anxiety levels and depression because of the higher impact of death and were 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized than whites.
“Financial support for existing and new mental health programming will grow as states receive increased mental health block grant awards under The American Rescue Plan Act for an enhanced COVID response. When formulating a response, mental health officials should consult WHO guidelines for direction and emphasize meeting African Americans’ needs,” the study said.
To sign up for classes, see http://www.BrokenCrayonsProject.com
To learn more about mental health resources, call (951)293-4240 or (951)682-1717 or see http://www.healthyheritage.org
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