The stigma surrounding mental illness in the Black community persists and public health advocate Kevin Dedner is looking to change that. Dedner launched a digital platform dubbed Henry Health as an avenue to empower Black men to take charge of their mental health, Black Enterprise reported.
Henry Health—which is named after Black folk hero John Henry— provides Black men with self-care tips and aligns them with therapists who provide culturally sensitive mental health services, the news outlet writes. Dedner’s personal battles with mental health inspired him to create the platform. While trying to seek help to cope with his depression, he ran into several roadblocks. The journey to find the right therapist was taxing and he nearly gave up. Through Henry Health, he wants to provide men with a sense of hope and show them that it’s possible to overcome their struggles.
“I believe Black men are having a unique experience in this country. And, while I don’t believe that you have to be Black to treat Black people, I do believe you have to be culturally sensitive and competent. It’s naive to think that the experiences that Black men have just on a normal day are good for our emotional and mental health,” he told Black Enterprise. “Experiences can be traumatic and can have a negative impact on our emotional well-being, physical health, and ultimately—in some cases—our life expectancy once compiled.”
Dedner plans on launching the Henry Health app in September to make seeking mental health services more accessible for men all over the country. He hopes to evoke dialogue about accessibility to mental health services in communities of color and increase the life expectancy of Black men through the services provided.
Platforms like Henry Health are needed in the Black community. According to Black Enterprise, less than 3 percent of therapists are people of color. Earlier this year, New York City launched Brothers Thrive to help African American men cope with mental health issues.