Baltimore Facility Wants To De-Stigmatize Mental Health Care

“In L.A., people brag about going to see their therapists. Therapy is not a bad thing,” said the center’s executive director.

A newly established mental health care facility in Baltimore is helping residents from the city’s most underserved neighborhoods with both traditional and unconventional approaches to therapy.

The Simon Life and Wellness Center, which opened in January, is helping to ensure that those who have experienced abnormal levels of trauma are able to find healthy ways of addressing and coping with their obstacles.

“A lot of our clients are told to suck it up every day,” Jada McCray, licensed clinical social worker and executive director of the center’s outpatient mental health clinic, told The Baltimore Sun. “We are giving them the tools to deal with it.”

Therapy is often out of the question for people struggling to make ends meet, and that struggle is a reality for a number of Baltimore residents. The company’s decision to accept Medicaid, in addition to private insurers, allows the city’s low-income residents to learn effective ways to manage their mental health.

Given Baltimore is a predominantly black city, SLWC is also assisting in the normalization of mental health care within the black community. Black people are more likely to be the victim of violent crimes than their white counterparts, and therefore more vulnerable to PTSD, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.

SLWC offers art, music, cooking and yoga therapy, tutorials on making YouTube videos and a psychiatric rehabilitation program for its patients, among other mental health services. These programs teach the center’s clients realistic and healthy ways of dealing with stressors outside of SLWC.

Christopher Simon, the executive director of BTST Services, under which SLWC operates, told The Baltimore Sun that he’s hoping mental health care can become de-stigmatized in lower-income communities.

“I want this to be someplace where [patients] want to come back,” he said. “I don’t want it to be a place where they are uncomfortable and dread coming. In L.A., people brag about going to see their therapists. Therapy is not a bad thing.”

Read more about SLWC at The Baltimore Sun