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DELLWOOD, Mo – The National Allegiance on Mental Illness reports 63% of black people believe mental health conditions is a sign of personal weakness. This idea, and lack of seeking treatment or services, has led to a mental health crisis in black communities. 

Tunnel Light, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2018 after the founder Sideny Stuckey’s brother committed suicide.

Passionate about addressing mental health, Tunnel Light launched an initiative that will provide mental health first aid training to local professionals in an effort to help residents better identify signs of depression, reverse the stigma on mental health, and begin rebuilding the health of black people overall. 

Saturday afternoon the organization hosted an open discussion at Eclectic Retail Gallery (E.R.G) in Dellwood. Singer, actress, and St. Louis native Truth Hurts served as the moderator and is endorsing the initiative. 

She said, “The more we start talking about it and dealing with it is the way that we handle it and really come up with some good remedies for mental health and start dealing with each other.”

The Tunnel Light Mental Health Awareness First Aid program is based upon a model out of Australia that has seen success. The organization has partnered with the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL), Mental Health of America, and National Wellbeing of America to provide the training.

The training is a five-hour online course. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate, and board member Bishop Perry says after you receive your certificate, you become eligible to co-host other training sessions to earn money. 

Perry said, “This training is set to give you resources and tools to use for someone who might be experiencing a mental health crisis or challenge.”

Though individual and collective awareness of the signs of depression and anxiety in yourself and others is a good first step, Tunnel Light ultimately wants to connect those struggling with mental health issues in silence to seek other resources, like therapy. 

“It just takes on person or one mission to interject in a person’s situation that might be depressive or unhappy,” said Perry, “and then they’re on their way to true happiness in their life.”

Stuckey knows mental health is hard for many people in the black community to discuss, but she says they hope to continue creating more safe spaces for open dialogue.

They encourage St. Louis City and County residents who are interested in helping their cause or in need of mental health services to contact them on their website or on their Facebook page.