RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond therapist hopes to help break the stigma long been associated with therapy and counseling in the African American community with the first-ever Black Therapy Expo on Saturday, May 20.
Brittany Rush knows firsthand what a tall task it has been.
"I have my own health story," Rush explained. "I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about mental health. It was kind of taboo to discuss, and I had mental health struggles of my own, so I think it’s important for youth coming up, for adults that never learned, for everyone to learn about mental health."
Now a mental health therapist, her Rush Community Group practice is hosting the expo where Richmond’s first poet laureate, Roscoe Burnem, will speak about the power of artistic expression.
"I’m very transparent about my battle with depression, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation," Burnem said. "I use my story to empower myself and to empower others."
Burnem will lead a panel discussion on using art as therapy.
"There is something about seeing a canvas, seeing a blank page, hearing a beat that allows us to tap into language that we weren’t able to access," Burnem explained. "So we show people this is what we hear, what we are dealing with inside. I need you to see this, it’s healing. It’s freeing."
Organizers want those in the community struggling with mental health to know help is not far away.
"Asking for help is a huge step of courageousness and bravery," Giovonni Hinton said. "For me as a therapist, it is so normal for us to receive messages from people saying I don’t know what to do, or this is my first time — and I applaud them for that because it takes so much strength."
Rush said the expo will connect participants with therapists who are currently taking new clients. To address the growing problem that many people who are struggling have waited weeks, even months to get an appointment.
"They’re waiting 6 to 8 weeks plus to access those services," Rush said. "I think it’s extremely important for accessibility and representation for those who are in need to access those services and access it from someone they feel comfortable speaking with."
Hinton and other experts encourage people struggling with mental health to reach out for help.
"And I applaud them for that because it takes so much strength and courage and vulnerability as well," Hinton said.
Tickets for Saturday’s Black Therapy Expo, which runs from noon until 3 p.m. and is open to everyone in the community, are $10. Click here to register on Eventbrite.
Do you know about a good news story happening in your community? Click hereto email WTVR.com and the CBS 6 News team.