Costs and wait times limit mental health access. These Pittsburgh organizations are stepping up to help.

by Juliette Rihl, (PublicSource)

Before the pandemic, society was already experiencing a mental health crisis. Now, it’s even worse. A surge in demand, combined with too few providers and high treatment costs, can make accessing services challenging. 

Where traditional health systems are lagging, community groups are stepping in. From providing therapy to Black Pittsburghers and new parents to creating virtual community healing spaces, here’s how three Pittsburgh organizations are filling gaps in need. 

Steel Smiling

Last spring, two and a half months into the pandemic and six days after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, Julius Boatwright posted an offer on his personal Facebook page. If any Black person in Pittsburgh needed therapy but couldn’t pay, Steel Smiling would try to help.

“I’m thinking, a couple likes, a couple shares, a few people will reach out,” said Boatwright, founder of the Black mental health nonprofit Steel Smiling. “It definitely went Pittsburgh-viral.”


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