By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A team of Philadelphia-area therapists is stepping up to provide mental health coverage for Black men. So far, they’ve provided more than 1,100 free therapy sessions and counting.

A few years ago, Taron Jordan was turning 30 and had “more questions than answers” about his life, his career, and being a parent to his two daughters.

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“I’m not supposed to ask for help. As a Black man, as a man, it was ingrained early, you know, you figure it out,” he said.

Around the same time, therapist Tasnim Sulaiman was pondering how to eliminate systemic barriers to mental health for Black men.

“There was so much that was frustrating to me of seeing Black men’s pain,” said Black Men Heal Founder and Executive Director Sulaiman.

So in 2018, Sulaiman started Black Men Heal, arranging therapists to provide Black men with eight free sessions.

“Giving eight free sessions but also pairing the men up with providers, culturally competent providers, who can specifically relate to their unique cultural needs,” Sulaiman said.

James Ellerbe joined as one of the therapists. Eyewitness News caught up with him on his way to an appointment at a hospice.

“The most gratifying thing is like actually helping another man get to the place of accepting manhood on a different level,” Ellerbe said.

The demand has been huge, especially during a pandemic and unrest after the murder of George Floyd.

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So Black Men Heal developed King’s Corner, a weekly online meeting. Hundreds participate from around the world.

“They empower each other, they encourage each other. It’s a beautiful thing to watch,” Black Men Heal Co-Founder and COO Zakia Williams said.

Black Men Heal is now operating in eight states. Donations and grants help them pay therapists.

“And I think the success speaks a lot to the need,” Sulaiman said.

Jordan was one of the first clients of Black Men Heal. He’s still seeing the same therapist years later.

“The same way you want to take care of your physical you want to take care of your mental health as well,” he said.

“I firmly believe that helping one Black man will help the family, which will then help the community, which will then help the world, basically,” Williams said.

Sulaiman is also helping recruit and train more providers of color.

The different ways to donate to Black Men Heal:

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Cash App: $BMHBlackMenHeal
Venmo: @BlackMen-Heal
Paypal: Info@blackmenheal.org

Ukee Washington