Cultural competency is essential for providing quality care and making sure the healthcare needs of all community members are met. In general, seeking help for mental health often carries a stigma. For many, that stigma has deep cultural roots that have to be addressed in ways that are sensitive, informed, and relatable.
According to Mental Health America, mental health conditions occur in Black and white people in America at about the same rates, but history, trauma, violence, oppression, racism, and medical mistrust often impact the emotional and mental health of Black people in ways that other populations don’t experience.
To help address such issues and the need for culturally competent mental health services in Fort Wayne, Janell and Aaron Lane founded Courageous Healing, a mental health practice the St. Joe Foundation has proudly supported with $80,000 in funding since its beginning in 2019.
For Janell and Aaron, it is important to have Black therapists who intentionally serve Black clients. “Over the last few years, we’ve been working to solve a problem that affects millions of people, including ourselves: traditional mental health systems often overlook the cultural nuances of historically underserved populations.”
Underserved populations often face barriers from cost to transportation that prevent them from seeking service. In many cases, it’s important for providers to go to where the people they want to serve are already located. “Locally, as mental health professionals of color in Fort Wayne, we saw an urgent need for culturally competent mental health services in Fort Wayne—services designed for people of color and, specifically, the southeast neighborhoods,” explain the Lanes. “Southeast is the most culturally diverse quadrant of the city, with close to 42,000 people, with a disproportionate concentration of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Burmese residents, however, with the least resources.”
With that in mind, Courageous Healing is intentionally located in southeast Fort Wayne so that proximity would not be a barrier for seeking help. Accessibility is one of the four pillars of Courageous Healing’s organizational model. The practice is also designed to be a safe space, trauma-informed, and culturally centered. “People seek therapy providers with whom they can connect and feel understood—finding them should not be an overwhelming task,” say the Lanes. “We created a dedicated space where clients can receive mental health and life support from staff with similar and shared life experiences, particularly facing racism, discrimination, and inequities. Our team is culturally responsive from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, which allows us to address the complexities of our clients’ lives in an honest and affirming way.”