More people seek therapy in response to community violence in Omaha

It’s a free therapy program created by the North Omaha Community Partnership.
In light of recent violence in the Omaha community, more people are seeking therapy.
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 7:16 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Strings of shootings and homicides take a mental toll on people and communities.

“It inflicts trauma, and we have to address it. The best way to address it is through mental and behavioral health,” said Tamika Mease, executive director of North Omaha Community Partnership.

Therapy is one way to cope. Bridge the Gap removes barriers to mental health therapy. That includes stigma, wait time, and cost. It’s a free therapy program created by the North Omaha Community Partnership.

“[In the spring], we started out with about 10 participants. And just over this past week and a half, not quite two weeks yet, we’ve added an additional almost thirty.”

🗣 Prayers to all the families, friends and our community that have been impacted by the recent violence and untimely...

Posted by North Omaha Community Partnership on Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Its mission is to provide free, timely care. That’s what attracted Oshea Heard to enroll in the program.

A few weeks ago, he went to therapy for the first time. But it wasn’t the first time he reached out for help at other clinics.

“It was hoops and hoops and days I couldn’t get in touch with anybody. And then I just left it alone for a long time,” Heard said.

He’s 26 years old, from Chicago, and now lives in North Omaha. After not being able to get in quickly to other therapists, he found out about the Bridge the Gap program.

“I got my appointment like this, like 24-hour appointments. It’s great people. I honestly think it’s a great thing to have in our community because a lot of people cannot afford it.”

Heard has to deal with similar things that others do in North Omaha, including loss.

“When you’re losing people back-to-back-to-back, you’re not getting a chance to grieve. I’ve had friends die from suicide, from murders, from car accidents. It’s hard because it’s back-to-back-to-back. And I can tell you, my high school did not offer nothing.”

It's suicide prevention week and one Omaha group is filling the need for mental health services in the community at no cost.

The therapy through Bridge the Gap is free thanks to partnerships in the community, like the interns at Capstone Behavioral Health.

“It helps them gain their clinical hours that’s needed for their licensure. And it helps us because there is absolutely no cost associated. And it helps our participants because they can get the help that they need in a timely manner,” said Mease.

Mease also understands that talking about mental health is stigmatized in certain cultures.

“We’re trying to normalize the conversation and normalize getting the help and not waiting until there’s a crisis situation or until it gets so bad,” she said.

“In the Black community therapy is kind of frowned upon,” said Heard.

But in just a couple of sessions, Heard sees how therapy can help him now and in the future.

“I don’t have kids yet, but when I do one day, I don’t want to bring the same trauma that I have experienced into it.”