MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – A Milwaukee social worker is working to end the stigma and debunk the myths surrounding mental health in underserved communities.
As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, CBS 58’s Tajma Hall sits down with Tarsha Wiggins to discuss how she’s sparking change with her interactive ‘Trap Therapy’ events.
Trap Therapy is a free community event that fuses music and mental health. The environment is fun and creates a safe place for difficult conversations. Trap music is a popular subgenre of hip-hop music. Trap Therapy events include a DJ to spin some of the latest tunes to make people feel comfortable.
Trap Therapy events are supported by various community organizations, including the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention.
Wiggins pursues his mission through his own organization called Speak Wellness.
“Speak Wellness is my little love child. It’s an organization that I started that aims to do two things. Reduce the stigma around mental illness in black and brown communities,” Wiggins said.
Statistically, communities of color experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression at higher rates than other races, but are less likely to seek help. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, less than 10% of black people with mental health issues get help.
Wiggins says the growing problem of violence in the community has a major impact on mental health, creating trauma that often goes unnoticed.
“A lot of times what’s considered trauma are things we’ve become used to. It’s normal to hear gunshots, to experience, to experience violence, to experience death…” Wiggins said.
Wiggins hopes to send the message that it’s normal not to be well and that it’s crucial to seek help.
“Our suicide rates are the highest among our black teens and I think that’s alarming and it’s about specific elements of the pandemic like isolation, lack of socio-emotional development, increased use of technology and interaction with social media,” Wiggins said.
Trap Therapy events are for all ages and give people the opportunity to dance through pain while addressing inner issues first hand. Participants leave with valuable tools to help them cope.
During Mental Health Awareness Month, trap therapy events were held for youth and another for women.
Wiggins says Milwaukee can’t heal until its people learn to heal themselves. She strives to continue to lead the charge towards peace of mind for all.
“In everything I do, it’s about leaving your mark but making changes,” Wiggins said.