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Free mental health counseling may soon be available in your neighborhood

Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one or would like emotional support, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. 

Dozens of people opted for free therapy appointments that Louisville Metro’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, or OSHN, reserved for people experiencing racial, domestic and sexual trauma last month. 

Nannette Dix, with OSHN’s Trauma Resilient Communities initiative, or TRC, said the goal was to specifically encourage men of color to seek treatment. 

“They are the ones who have the highest incidence of suicide. Their rates here in Kentucky were higher than the national average,” Dix said. “But the free therapy is for everyone.”

But she said  only about a third of people who opted for counseling were part of the targeted demographic. Dix said what’s missing is convenience and consistency. 

“We were still asking people to come outside of their comfort zones to seek treatment,” Dix said. “You need to have the services right in the communities that are most impacted.”

Last year more than 150 people died by suicide in Jefferson County, and the overwhelming majority of them were Black, Latino or Indigenous men under the age of 25. 

“The rise in community violence, the impact of racial trauma and COVID all played a role in collectively traumatizing and draining communities of color physically, mentally and spiritually,” Dix said. 

TRC is an effort made possible through federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It focuses on lifting barriers to trauma-informed care and making sure staff who work directly with youth and families are well-informed about how to approach different situations with care and sensitivity. Another goal is to ensure services are available and accessible to those who need them most. 

Dix said the city will bring free mental health services to six Neighborhood Place locations across south and west Louisville early next year.

The exact start date for these is not confirmed, but Dix said the expected rollout is January 2023. In the meantime, residents can still schedule  free counseling appointments both in-person and over the phone by calling the Trauma Resilience hotline at 502-901-0100.

Other mental health resources:

  • Spalding University’s Collective Care Center – 502-792-7011 – Free therapy for those who have experienced race-based trauma

  • WAVE-3 “It’s Your Life” Youth Help Line – (866) 589-8727 – A link to specially trained peer counselors