Black people and other minority groups often feel stigmatized while seeking mental healthcare, but a UTA alumna and sister duo aim to bridge care gaps through a more inclusive mental health studio.
Center to Rise Wellness Spa Studio offers individual, group and family therapy, as well as other forms of healing such as Reiki, sound bowl healing and yoga. It was important for Nicole Butler-White, Center to Rise Wellness Spa Studio co-owner, to have a wellness studio that would appeal to everyone, especially those in the Black community, to change the stigma around seeking therapy, she said.
“I wanted to take away the stigma of mental health,” Butler-White said.
Butler-White wanted the therapy experience to be unique for each person who came through their doors and for patients to not feel like they were in a doctor’s office.
Butler-White encourages all types of people to join the wellness spa, whether that means folks with tattoos or people with big hair, she said. She wants those who walk in to see someone else they can identify with and feel included.
To diversify the clientele at Center to Rise Wellness Spa Studio, it not only has therapists, but also various support groups like a Black men support group and LGBTQ+ support groups.
Christina Tuggle, co-owner and licensed clinical therapist, said the language used at the clinic is important for destigmatizing.
“So where we might say in a traditional therapy session, in here, we call it a speak and release,” Tuggle said. “You come in here, you get it out, you release it out.”
The terminology is just one area Center to Rise Wellness Spa Studio aims to make people feel more welcome. Tuggle said oftentimes people go to therapy because they feel something is wrong with them, and Tuggle wants to change that mind-set.
Social Work senior Jessica Phillips said while conducting research for a social work program course she found that racism can affect the mental health of African American males, and there are stigmas around getting help in the Black community, she said.
“African Americans report extreme stress, 20% higher than their white counterparts, but they actually seek help less,” Phillips said.
Phillips also said although one in five Americans struggle with illnesses like anxiety and depression, seeking help is often stigmatized in the Black community.
There is also a stigma in the LGBTQ+ community about seeking therapy because in the past, identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was considered a mental illness, she said.
This could keep people from wanting to go get help at a younger age because they already have their parents saying they're having these mental issues, she said.
Last June, Butler-White thought of the idea to create the wellness studio after they found more people in need of help due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said she wanted to put Center to Rise Wellness Spa Studio in a location accessible to everyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and settled on Arlington.
Online therapy is available to patients. Tuggle, who is also a therapist at the wellness clinic and spa, is able to connect virtually with those who wish to do online counseling, Butler-White said.
“We're trying to really be mindful in a way that people can come in, and they can feel like they can be themselves,” she said.