NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - As part of Black History Month, one local organization is working to break down the stigma in the Black community of mental health.

TN Voices says with all that’s been going on over the past 12 months, it’s important those in the Black and Brown communities take care of their mental health, and it starts with letting others know how you’re feeling.

Kara James-Johnson heads a nonprofit that works with Black and Brown girls around mental health, but also receives therapy to help with her own mental health.

“In our culture specifically, we’re just told to pray and kind of just deal and this is normal and this is what it means to be strong,” James-Johnson said. “You just need a space where you can be safe, to be able to speak out loud what you are going through and allow a professional to come in and walk through that, and you will feel liberated, and feel refreshed and feel healthy.”

Will Voss, chief operations officer with TN Voices, says breaking down the stigma starts with education and ends with sharing.  

“Through our social marketing and outreach efforts, we’ve been able to ensure that we’re promoting the importance of knowing what signs are symptoms, but also recognizing how to seek assistance,” he said. “We’re employing individuals with experience who have worked this journey, who are able to go into the community and talk to others. Like I’ve successfully navigated this system. I’ve overcome the struggles or I’m working to overcome the struggles.”

James-Johnson hopes the Black and Brown community will take this message to heart.

“I highly recommend in these times of stress and trauma that we reach out for help and do that with a professional,” she said.

TN Voices has a hope fund that allows them to offer therapy free of charge for those who don’t have insurance.

For more information about TN Voices click here.

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