Grant funding that assists small, minority-owned businesses is helping a Havelock behavioral health group expand its services to some of Craven County’s most vulnerable citizens.
On June 14, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses announced that Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, a Havelock-based psychology and behavioral health practice, was one of 20 businesses that had been awarded a $25,000 enhancement grant from its 2021 program.
The multi-year initiative was established in September 2020 by American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and four national Black business organizations — the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker’s Legacy — to support the long-term success of Black-owned small businesses as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Located at 118 Crocker Road across from the main entrance to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness specializes in minority issues, military families, trauma, and relationship abuse.
In addition to telehealth services, the practice provides individual and group therapy as well as couples and family therapy. Psychological assessments are also offered for autism and other disorders.
Owner Che Ward, a licensed clinical psychologist, said that after moving to the Havelock area with her husband a year and a half ago, she began offering online counseling services from her house.
“When I started looking around, that led me to know that there are very few therapists and only one psychologist here,” Ward said. “So I saw this was a prime place for people to come here and do mental health.”
Ward opened the Crocker Road practice in July 2021 and currently employs a second therapist as well as an assistant, an intern and office staff.
“We’re slowly growing,” Ward said. “The more people in the community know about us the more clients we get and the more referrals.”
Ward said when she arrived in Havelock she was surprised that so few behavioral health practices were available in the area.
“There is a lot that comes with small town life and also poverty," she said. "There’s a lot of mental health issues that people either ignore or don't know they can get help for. There is also a need to serve the military community. The service members usually get help but the families need to know that we’re here for them, too.”
Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness received an initial $5,000 CBBB grant last year and was then selected for the enhancement grant, which is awarded to businesses that have shown growth.
Ward said the initial grant money allowed her business to purchase office and testing supplies, while the new funding will go towards staff training and assessment materials.
“A full autism assessment kit is around $5,000, so the money is definitely needed,” she said.
According to Ward, the CBBB grant has allowed her practice to help offset the costs of services for clients not covered by health insurance.
“With this fund we’ve been able to do some sliding scale fees and subsidized programs so that we don’t have to charge patients the full rate,” Ward said. “What we’re working on now is trying to get credentialing through all of the insurance companies, because the biggest need is Medicaid and TRICARE.”
The grant money will also be used to open a computer testing center, Ward said.
“We’re trying to put out as many services as we can for the community, because I hear more and more people saying ‘Oh, with the bypass everybody’s leaving Havelock.’ But we’re not, we’re here,” Ward commented.
The need for the services offered by Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness became especially apparent because of COVID-19, Ward said. The pandemic forced the practice to adopt new technology to bring their services to clients.
“It increased people’s fear and not only trauma but all the discord in families and in homes,” Ward noted. “So that led us to adjust our services to offer telehealth for all of them, which was just burgeoning in this community because it wasn’t accepted by most insurance companies.”
Ward said within the next year she hopes to hire at least one more full-time therapist. She said she hopes her practice inspires others to offer mental health services in Craven County.
“We need more, now. We need more therapy, more therapists, more minority therapists. We’re hoping to get at least one more minority therapist and possibly a male. They’re a rarity in this profession right now,” she said.
For more information on Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, visit https://www.hurtandhealingbhw.com/about-5 or call 252-652-6047.
Black business community faces 'starker challenges'
As a Black business owner, Ward said she has faced roadblocks when seeking funding for her business.
“Usually when it comes to face-to-face I can say there is definitely some hesitation or interference or reluctance to even listen, to find out what our intentions are,” she explained. “Applying for things online it may be a little bit easier, because there’s no face associated.”
Lawrence Bowdish, executive director for the Chamber Foundation, said Black-owned businesses have faced specific challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the challenges are starker in the Black businesses community. Black-owned businesses are more likely to get hit by spending changes due to inflation, or labor availability,” Bowdish said. “A lot of Black-owned businesses are concentrated in industries that rely more on foot traffic, which has gone down.”
Bowdish noted that a January 2022 survey, the Global State of Small Business Report, indicated that 41% of Black-owned businesses closed during the first quarter of 2020.
“That’s an astronomical figure, a massive catastrophe in that community,” he said. “It’s slowly rebounded since then, with new entrepreneurs. And that means there’s a new group of business owners that really need more assistance, support and resources to get off the ground.”
Bowdish said approximately 50% of CBBB grant recipients saw an increase in their sales revenue in the 6 months after receiving their grants, compared to 33% of Black-owned businesses generally.
“We do see that what we’re doing is definitely helping these businesses,” Bowdish said.
For more information about the Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant eligibility and the application process, visit https://webackblackbusinesses.com/
This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Black-owned business grant will expand Havelock mental health services