According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression prevalence increased by 25 percent, showing that mental health challenges continue to not only command but require global attention. They ripple across communities, and notably, they touch the BIPOC community profoundly. With nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults grappling with mental health issues, there's an urgent cry for innovation and a fresh approach.
Right from the heart of Atlanta emerges a visionary response: Gloria Umanah's The Hope Booth, a nonprofit organization approaching mental wellness from an entirely new lens and creating an impact worldwide.
The Hope Booth’s Gloria Umanah: A Founder Rooted in Resilience and Hope
Gloria’s personal story is intricately woven with threads of resilience and hope. A survivor, she recalls, “After nearly losing my life to suicide in 2011 while battling homelessness, fatherless, and extreme bullying, I’m alive today because of the power of that 4-letter word, hope.” From these depths, The Hope Booth rose, not as a mere initiative, but as an emblem of hope for every passerby, for every soul in quiet despair.
Walking the streets of Atlanta or the corridors of the esteemed Parallax Art Fair in London, you might stumble upon a modern marvel: a repurposed telephone booth, a sanctuary of hope. The Hope Booth isn’t just about the 3-minute immersive experience it offers. It's a connection, a lifeline, a whisper reminding you that you're not alone. Visitors to the booth receive recorded messages of hope as well as interactive sound, light, and breathwork experiences to relieve pain points and improve mental health. Additionally, each Hope Booth provides a breakdown of available support resources within an immediate five-mile radius of the booth.
Gloria recalls the myriad of reactions she’s witnessed. “From the homeless to Fortune 500 CEOs, the feedback often resounds with gratitude. Some find strength for another day, while others just find solace for the moment. But both responses are testaments to its power.”
An All-BIPOC Team's Milestones: Who Are The People Powering The Hope Booth?
What makes The Hope Booth even more revolutionary is its roots. With an all-BIPOC team, young and driven, they’ve navigated complex terrains without a tech background. Their tenacity echoes in the impressive milestones: a 73% surge in hope post-interaction, collaborations with influencers like Keith Powers, and a journey that spans 19 cities.
Amplifying Awareness on Global Suicide Prevention Day
Amidst a rising global mental health crisis backdrop, The Hope Booth is poised to amplify its impact. Their upcoming pop-up event, hosted in partnership with Ponce City Market in Atlanta, coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Positioned to attract a broad spectrum of attendees, this event showcases The Hope Booth's capabilities to potential sponsors, advocates, and those in need.
Their track record speaks volumes. Significant milestones, such as the 73 percent increase in hope after a Hope Booth interaction and the impressive 99 percent completion rate, underscore the initiative’s effectiveness. The organization has had a presence in 28 cities worldwide, with a whopping 5,134 individuals having experienced The Hope Booth to date. This, combined with notable presence events like London's prestigious Parallax Art Fair and an expansive 30-day tour across 19 cities, including in universities like Louisiana State University and Virginia Commonwealth University, places The Hope Booth at the forefront of innovative mental health solutions.
"Over the last two years, we've had the chance to beta The Hope Booth globally,” Gloria reminisces “Responses ranged from 'I needed this hope for the day' to 'I needed this hope to live another day.' My heart gravitates towards the latter." Her words echo with emotion, "After my experience with suicidal ideation in 2011, I'm alive because of hope. I want everyone to realize that hope and help exist for them, irrespective of barriers."
Every Hope Booth Offers Information On Essential Resources Within a 5 Mile Radius
In addition to serving as a brief sanctuary for emotional well-being, The Hope Booth is also a robust hub of localized resources. When visitors step into a Booth, they're not just greeted with messages of hope, but also with an array of actionable support options. Within a five-mile radius, each Booth lists available services ranging from mental health support—such as family counseling, group therapy, individual counseling, and substance abuse counseling—to food assistance resources like local food pantries and government food benefits.
For those in need of shelter, information about local housing options and financial support is at their fingertips. Families can find resources for daycare, preschool, and even adoption and foster care services. For the unemployed or those in unstable employment, the Booth directs them to career centers, financial assistance, and information on how to apply for unemployment benefits. Healthcare options are also extensively covered, with listings for nearby clinics, mental health care services, and sexual and reproductive care centers. It's like having a mini-welfare office condensed into an interactive experience, bridging the gap between despair and the tangible help available nearby.
A Nationwide Revolution with Global Aspirations
Across the vast American landscape, from the metropolitan hustle to the tranquil countryside, mental health challenges remain a prevalent concern. The recent statistics from Mental Health America unveil the urgency: 19.86 percent of adults, nearly 50 million Americans, are navigating the tumultuous waters of mental illness. Delve deeper, and you'll find that 4.91 percent are wading through severe mental health challenges. The numbers speak loudly, reinforcing that the mental health conversation is not confined to dense cityscapes; it's nationwide.
Yet, in this vast expanse, The Hope Booth's vision stands tall with a promise of global reach. It's not just about America; it's about ushering in a wave of change that resonates in every corner of the world. Gloria Umanah's mission transcends borders, intending to touch souls across continents. Her drive is simple: to make hope and help as ubiquitous as the air we breathe.
For every individual navigating the challenges of today, for everyone from bustling New York to serene Idaho, The Hope Booth emerges as a beacon of light. And as this nationwide revolution takes flight, its wings spread with aspirations that span the globe.
In this transformative era, the call to action is evident. Whether you're an artist, a business leader, or a community advocate, there’s an invitation here: to be a part of a movement, to champion mental wellness, and to sow seeds of hope that have the potential to impact lives, both domestically and internationally.
Learn more about The Hope Booth at hopebooth.com.
World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on September 10, 2023. Visit The Hope Booth pop-up from 10AM-4PM at Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE in Atlanta, GA.
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Featured image: The Hope Booth team, led by founder Gloria Umanah (center) (C) The Hope Booth