Black-owned business grant will expand Havelock’s mental health services
Grants supporting small minority-owned businesses are helping a behavioral health group in Havelock expand its services to some of Craven County’s most vulnerable citizens.
On June 14, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses announced that Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, a Havelock-based psychology and behavioral health practice, was one of 20 companies to receive a $25,000 improvement grant as part of its 2021 program received USD.
The multi-year initiative was launched in September 2020 by American Express, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and four national black business organizations — the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, US Black Chambers, Inc. and Walker’s Legacy — in support of the long-term success of black-owned small businesses in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Located at 118 Crocker Road across from the main entrance of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness specializes in minority issues, military families, trauma and relationship abuse.
In addition to telemedical services, the practice offers individual and group therapy as well as couple and family therapy. Psychological assessments are also offered for autism and other disorders.
Owner Che Ward, a licensed clinical psychologist, said that after moving to the Havelock area with her husband a year and a half ago, she began offering online counseling services from her home.
“As I started looking around, I realized there were very few therapists here and only one psychologist,” Ward said. “So I saw that this is a prime place for people to come here and take care of mental health.”
Ward opened the Crocker Road practice in July 2021 and currently employs a second therapist, as well as an assistant, intern and clerical staff.
“We’re growing slowly,” Ward said. “The more people in the community who know about us, the more customers we get and the more recommendations.”
Ward said when she arrived in Havelock she was surprised that there were so few behavioral health practices in the area.
“There’s a lot to live with in small town life and also poverty,” she said. “There are many mental health issues that people either ignore or don’t know they can get help. There is also a need to serve the military community. The service workers usually get help, but the families need to know that we are there for them too.”
Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness received an initial $5,000 CBBB grant last year and was then selected for the improvement grant awarded to companies that have demonstrated growth.
Ward said the initial grant enabled her company to purchase office and testing supplies, while the new funds will be used for staff training and assessment materials.
“A full autism assessment kit costs about $5,000, so the money is definitely needed,” she said.
According to Ward, the CBBB grant has enabled her practice to offset the cost of providing services to clients not covered by health insurance.
“This fund has allowed us to run some tiered fees and subsidized programs so we don’t have to charge patients the full rate,” Ward said. “What we’re working on now is trying to get accredited with all insurance companies because the biggest need is with Medicaid and TRICARE.”
The grant money will also be used to open a computer testing center, Ward said.
“We’re trying to provide as many services to the community as we can because I’m hearing more and more people saying, ‘Oh, the bypass takes everyone out of Havelock.’ But we’re not, we’re here,” Ward commented.
The need for the services offered by Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness has been particularly evident because of COVID-19, Ward said. The pandemic forced the practice to adopt new technologies to offer their services to clients.
“It increased people’s fear and not just the trauma, but all the discord in families and at home,” Ward noted. “That prompted us to adapt our services to offer telemedicine to everyone, which was just burgeoning in this community because it wasn’t accepted by most insurance companies.”
Ward said she hopes to hire at least one more full-time therapist within the next year. She said she hopes her practice inspires others to offer mental health services in Craven County.
“We need more now. We need more therapy, more therapists, more therapists for minorities. We hope to get at least one more minority therapist and possibly a man. They’re a rarity in this profession right now,” she said.
For more information on Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, visit https://www.hurtandhealingbhw.com/about-5 or call 252-652-6047.
Black business faces ‘major challenges’
As a black business owner, Ward said she faced obstacles in finding funding for her business.
“Usually I can tell when it comes to a face-to-face conversation, there’s definitely some hesitation or interference or unwillingness to even listen to find out what our intentions are,” she explained. “The online application might be a bit easier as there is no face assigned.”
Lawrence Bowdish, executive director of the Chamber Foundation, said black-owned businesses have faced unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of the challenges are greater in the black business community. Black-owned businesses are more likely to be affected by changes in spending due to inflation or labor availability,” Bowdish said. “Many black-owned companies are focusing on industries that rely more on foot traffic, which has declined.”
Bowdish noted that a January 2022 survey, the Global State of Small Business Report, found that 41% of Black-owned businesses closed in the first quarter of 2020.
“This is an astronomical number, a massive catastrophe in this community,” he said. “Since then it has been slowly recovering with new entrepreneurs. And that means there’s a new group of business owners who really need more help, support and resources to get started.”
Bowdish said that approximately 50% of CBBB grantees saw an increase in their sales revenue in the 6 months after receiving their grants, compared to 33% of black-owned businesses generally.
“We see that what we’re doing is definitely helping these companies,” Bowdish said.
For more information on Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant eligibility and the application process, visit https://webackblackbusinesses.com/