MIAMI – May 1, 2019 – For 20 years, Empower U has worked tirelessly to serve families in disadvantaged communities. Now in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Liberty City-based health center is launching the “My Mind Matters” campaign to cater to the needs of those suffering from issues like depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc. It is also highlighting the comprehensive healthcare services it provides across the life spectrum.
Recent suicides from Parkland student survivors revitalized the conversation about properly treating mental health in the Florida legislature. However, Empower U CEO Belita Wyatt said residents living right in Liberty City face poverty, unmitigated gun violence, and a host of issues daily that produce stress-related mental health disorders.
“Living in the inner city with socioeconomic and financial hardships, being witness to and victims of shootings, divorce and domestic violence all trigger health issues. There is PTSD and many times people self-medicate with street drugs because they haven’t been diagnosed. The key is to come and find out because your mind matters. We have licensed clinical social workers that are here to deal with all these issues. Mental stability is important to each of us. There’s no condition known to man that someone else hasn’t already gone through. There should be no shame. They just need to come in and talk about it. People need to get the help and support they need and we provide that,” Wyatt said.
Despite this, many people suffer in silence for fear of being judged as ‘crazy.’ According to the Florida Behavioral Health Association, 61.7 percent of adults with mental illness in Florida did not seek treatment. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show suicides and unintentional overdoses jumped from 41,000 in the year 2000 to 111,000 in 2007.
To debunk the stigma that having mental and emotional disorders is something to be ashamed of, Empower U is hosting a month-long series of events. Highlights include: a weekly talk show on WMBM, a weekly church tour, a press day, a lunch and learn, a friends and family picnic and more. A full, detailed schedule of events and activities is attached.
In addition to their mental health services, Wyatt wants the community to know Empower U is equipped to service all of their healthcare needs.
“People suffer from different things and oftentimes it goes untreated because of socioeconomic conditions. We are a very qualified health center and we don’t turn anybody away because of their economic situation. We are warm and sympathetic and we have a passion for treating people.”
Though widely known for its HIV/AIDS work, the center received a significant grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to treat a wide variety of health disparities. They offer full wellness exams, counseling, pap smears, immunizations and more.
“We have physicians that cover the full gamut of treatment. These things are so sorely needed in our community. Our people may perish for a lack of knowledge, so we’re trying to get the word out that we’re here for them,” Wyatt said.