Buffalo residents offered free mental health services after Tops shooting

BUFFALO – Is there truly a stigma surrounding Black people and mental health?

“The stigma is real. To me it’s just another shaming tool – something utilized to work against us,” Melissa Archer, psychiatric nurse who runs NY Project Hope at the Buffalo Urban League, said.

May 14th’s racially-motivated mass killing at the Jefferson Avenue Tops supermarket was a traumatic crisis. Black people were targeted by a white supremacistwho killed Celestine Chaney, Roberta A. Drury, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Margus Morrison, Geraldine Talley, Heyward Patterson, Aaron Salter, Ruth Whitfield spirit Pearl Youngand wounded Christopher Braden, Zaire Goodman and Jennifer Warrington.

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Buffalonians, especially Black Buffalonians, are urged to seek mental health counseling. Many providers began offering free sessions soon after the racially-motivated mass shooting that left three wounded victims, as well as the 10 dead.

The Buffalo Urban League and the Erie County Department of Mental Health are just two WNY organizations providing free mental health sessions.

Free mental health counseling sessions are being offered by the Erie County Department of Mental Health through May 27 at Johnnie B. Wiley.

On Sunday, BUL and ECDMH worked together to offer a free, drop-in mental health clinic at Johnnie B. Wiley, about four blocks from Tops on Jefferson and Best Street.

“What happened on Saturday was not a random act of violence in which our entire community would experience the rise of fear. This was a targeted act of violence specifically toward Black people. We need to acknowledge that,” Deputy Erie County executive Maria Whyte said . “The generational trauma that will come from having been targeted based on the color of your skin … is something that we have to grapple with to properly heal.”

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