INside Story

Mental health wellness center healing Indy’s far east side

Millions of Americans — including millions of Hoosiers — face mental health challenges.

News 8’s Amicia Ramsey takes a look at how these issues impact the Indianapolis community in a weeklong “INside Story” series.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A community-based healing center is now open on Indy’s far east side. The vision is to improve the lives of people in the city.

“It’s time to eradicate the stigmas around Black people going to therapy,” Dee Ross, founder of The Ross Foundation, tells News 8.

The Ross Foundation is a nonprofit focused on improving lives. It offers a variety of programs, including community gardening, art therapy, and health education.

“These types of things are soothing and different alternative ways to dealing with grief, your trauma, and mental health,” Ross said.

The Ross Center, a community center, opened in April.

The center is on the corner of 42nd Street and Biscayne Road near Post Road, not far from where Ross grew up and faced his own challenges.

“We are at the top of the charts in the state with the most homicides,” Ross said.

So, Ross is asking a bigger question: What’s the root of the problem?

“Has anyone ever asked? Why are they shooting each other in the first place? Why are they selling drugs in the first place? We have to dive deeper,” Ross said.

The Ross Center offers community-based mental health services at its in-house healing center, The Root Therapy.

George Middleton is a therapeutic and behavioral specialist who studies mental health and the social constructs of race and its impact on our society.

“The mind can not both improve and survive at the same time. You can only do one or the other,” Middleton said.

Middleton is referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory in psychology that depicts human needs in a five-layered pyramid. Needs lower in the pyramid must be addressed before people can address needs higher up.

“At the base of that hierarchy are your physiological needs. Food, shelter, and warmth. Without those basics, every other aspect of your life is adversely impacted,” said Middleton.

He also says where you live plays a part.

“If you are born in very stressful environments, that automatically is a precursor to the negative impact to mental health,” Middleton added.

As for Ross, he sees The Root Therapy as a beacon of hope.

“We want them to come to therapy and not worry about not having a roof over their head, food on the table, shoes on their feet. This is why we are here. We want to eliminate those barriers and disadvantages that keep them from thriving,” Ross said.

Ross says he is looking for part-time employees between the ages of 18 and 24 to join their outreach program and let people know about the services that are available.

Mental health resources