By Gregory Stevens
The Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (WRC), founded by Dr. Willie Mae Lewis to help with mental health transitions and life skill development, continues to build greater mental health awareness in our communities. Bishop Corey Wilson, Pastor Laverne West of Unspoken Ministries and Aswad Walker of the Shrine of the Black Madona serve as key members of WRC’s leadership team tasked to create culturally competent, intergenerational, community-based mental health teams that teach individuals and families in their networks the positive use of stress, along with treatment supports for those experiencing trauma.
The training and ongoing community support this team offers and teaches concur with the Mental Health Foundation’s assertion that people with mental health issues face discrimination, making it difficult to find work, maintain long-term relationships, live in decent housing and experience a socially active life. WRC graduated its fifth Mental Health Certified Coaches Cohort, an internationally recognized distinction, on Aug. 26, 2023. Graduates emerged from the program equipped to support therapists, organizations and individuals in decreasing mental health stigmas that affect people’s wellbeing. These newly certified mental health coaches provide support to therapists and institutional mental health initiatives by encouraging the use of cultural appreciation. With their commitment to cultural competence, these coaches purposefully avoid perpetuating harmful mental health stereotypes via their content and actions. Diane Gilbert, director of the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association, was the keynote speaker at the WRC graduation.
A previous Texas gubernatorial candidate, Gilbert challenged and inspired graduates and those in attendance with her address entitled “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” “Graduates, I charge each of you to use the tools acquired in training to create a wave of compassion and activism for genuine systemic change,” said Gilbert.
Georgia Provost, a Houston City Council’s District D candidate, spoke to the need for proactive activism in our communities. She emphasized the importance of using the Mental Health Coaching platform to address issues surrounding mental health stigmas in our communities. “But you can’t just talk about it, you’ve got to do it,” Provost implored. Pastor Denise Caulfield, WRC’s Community Connect director, associate pastor at Riverside UMC and executive director of Wesley Foundation@ University of Houston agrees that joining groups and people to embrace whole body wellness in the community is the new form of mental health preparedness.