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Online group meets and discusses podcasts, the importance of minority mental health

It can be hard to ask for help when you're struggling with your mental health, but one group of women meets to make sure you know you are not alone.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's not easy for many of us to admit we need a little help. It's one thing to go to a doctor when you're sick, but for some reason when we need emotional help, lots of people stop short of asking. 

There's been a stigma about 'getting therapy.'  And, it's even bigger in minority communities. That's why this month is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

One woman is trying to stop that stigma using her 'Virtual Connections' to help dozens of other women reach their full potential. 

It's like this: Imagine a book club, but replace the book with a podcast. That's what Tiffany Ellis did a year ago when she created Pods and PR. 

"We talk about podcasts and then we break apart the conversation and dig a little deeper. Once COVID happened, we had to switch our platform and go virtual, so we changed Pods and PR to the Virtual Connection."

The program started just a year ago is now reaching hundreds of women across the US. Twice a month they pick a podcast, meet online to discuss it and then go deep. That's why Ellis has a licensed therapist participating in each session. 

"She kind of helps to gauge the room and when you see things happening that might need a little bit more work or we need to pack things back up that have been unpacked, she's there to help initiate that portion as well."

Many of the women now talk about having regular visits with their own therapist, which is something Ellis is proud of because this is a community that is even more hesitant to reach out for help. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, only one in three African Americans who need mental health care, receive it.  "We have a mistrust for the medical community sometimes and we've been taught to keep our issues at home."

But now, through sharing thoughts, ideas and emotions, Ellis is seeing these women more happy, healthy and whole. 

"We want to be self-aware, we want to have emotional intelligence and we want to have the problem-solving skills to handle anything that life is going to throw at us and in this platform and in this space, we create the capacity to make that happen."

You can find more out about The Virtual Connection on their website or on their YouTube channel.