MHA of Central Carolinas holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for free mental health services

A new doorway to mental health has been opened to people who may not have had access in the past.

Mental Health America (MHA) of Central Carolinas held a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Friday to unveil free mental health services for people who may not be able to afford them otherwise.

The center was officially opened in January using COVID-19 relief funding from Mecklenburg County, with a strong focus on encouraging people of color to seek help. According to MHA of Central Carolinas Director Megan Bryant, they have seen many clients, both in person and online.

“Eighty percent of our clients are either uninsured or underinsured, meaning their co-pay is too high and they can’t afford it, and 75 percent of those individuals are people of color,” said Bryant.

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Bryant also told Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura that there is still a large stigma around mental health, especially in certain communities. This attitude toward mental health, along with community ideals, generally tends to prevent people who need help from ever seeking it.

“A lot of times, they rely so heavily on the church and family for support,” Bryant explained, “but like I tell my mom, you can have Jesus and a therapist.”

In the newly renovated space, free short-term counseling is available to anyone as young as eight. Rooms are complete with soundproof walls for added privacy. The staff is made up of master’s students from Johnson C. Smith University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; all students are overseen by licensed therapists.

Khamik Cardwell, a JCSU student, had never seen a therapist until the pandemic, and he said it changed his life. Now Cardwell spends his time helping others.

“Let them know at a young age it’s OK to seek help, to seek therapy, to seek counseling, whatever is needed for your resources,” Cardwell said.

Cardwell says this is all about making a difference, and he is hopeful that the center will eliminate barriers to help so people in need can finally get it.

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