MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, two local therapists are making history here in Mobile.
They’re the owners of the first Black-owned, women-owned mental health center in the Port City.
Afiya Hooker and Jo Anna Johnson work everyday to combat the stigma surrounding mental health.
“People typically tell themselves that. Oh, I’ll get over it, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Johnson. “And they try to push through. But a lot of times it just puts a bandaid on it, it doesn’t treat the problem. And that’s what therapy is, it not just puts a bandaid on it, it tries to get to the root of the issue.”
The two therapists serve the Gulf Coast community through their newly-opened mental health facility, the Yin Yang Wellness Center.
“When we were trying to come up with the name, we didn’t want to grow or expand our personal businesses, because those were just ours,” said Hooker. “We said, hey, well what about Yin Yang. We’re so different but so alike and we can put those two powers together, those differences together to grow something bigger and stronger and better for the community.”
When they opened the center last year, it made history as the first Black-owned, women-owned mental health center in Mobile.
“When we decided to open the center, I found out that we were the first Black-owned mental health wellness center, It was kind of disappointing because it’s 2021, but it’s an honor to be able to provide those types of services,” said Hooker.
The US Department of Health and Human services said only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it.
Experts also said, Black people are more likely to be misdiagnosed.
Johnson and Hooker joined forces last year, and aim to make the black community feel more comfortable getting help.
“As a Black woman, myself a lot of times it’s very hard for me to be vulnerable with people. I can relate to a lot of my clients who have those same issues,” said Johnson.
They’ve teamed up with other counselors and provide several services ranging from individual marriage and group counseling to helping children work through their problems.
They hope this journey of creating inclusiveness in the mental health field encourages others to live in their purpose as well.
“If you have a desire, if you have a passion, if you feel like that’s your purpose, it might be a lot of work and it might take a lot of internal work for yourself, but the reward is so much greater,” said Hooker.
The therapists said they plan on expanding the wellness center and forming more partnerships in the community later this year.