NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - When you think of small businesses, typically you think of retail stores or restaurants.

One type of business is seeing a lot of traffic this year – mental health clinics.

Morenike Murphy owns Center of Hope Behavioral Health, a service helping those looking for mental health counseling.

“We opened Center of Hope for Behavioral Health in January. Initially we planned to open as a walk-in center, providing those immediate counseling services and providing services for people, regardless of their ability to pay,” Murphy said.

Then came March when the first case of COVID-19 hit Middle Tennessee.

“Well then hello corona and everything kind of went to the wayside and we had to scramble and figure out what can we do, how can we still support the need,” Murphy said.

Especially when the need kept increasing. Murphy quickly outgrew her space in Madison, opening up in Goodlettsville. They’ve seen such a high demand, especially from people of color.

“We know how important it is for people of color to receive mental health counseling services from someone that looks like them. It really reduces the anxiety. It increases the trust. It really provides a safe space for that person to really be able to share those issues,” Murphy said.

According to the Center for Disease Control earlier this year, U.S adults reported considerably elevated mental health conditions. Younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential works and unpaid adult caregivers reported having disproportionately worse mental health outcomes.

The problem Murphy is facing, like many other small business mental health clinics, is who is helping the helpers? She’s trying to help others while also staying afloat herself.

“We always turn to our friends and our neighbors and say, ‘Hey, have you talked to a counselor, you need to talk to someone.’ Well, we got to make sure those folks are available for people to talk to and that’s really been the challenge,” Murphy said.

Murphy encourages people to reach out to small mental health practices, especially right now.

“Call those businesses up, especially if it’s a private mental health practice, and call those businesses up and ask them specifically, “How can we support you? How can we be of support to you?’ Sometimes there is funding, sometimes there’s other needs that are there,” Murphy said.


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