Milwaukee social worker links music and mental health with ‘Trap Therapy’

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — A social worker in Milwaukee works to end stigma and debunk mental health myths in underserved communities.

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, CBS 58’s Tajma Hall sits down with Tarsha Wiggins to discuss how she’s making a difference with her interactive Trap Therapy events.

Trap Therapy is a free community event that connects music and mental health. The environment is fun and creates a safe space for some tough conversations. Trap music is a popular subgenre of hip hop music. Trap Therapy events include a DJ spinning some of the latest tunes to keep people comfortable.

Trap Therapy events are supported by various community organizations, including the City of Milwaukee Office for Violence Prevention.

Wiggins continues her mission through her own organization called Speak Wellness.

“Speak Wellness is my little child of love. It’s an organization that I founded that aims to do two things. Reduce the stigma around mental illness in the Black and Brown communities,” Wiggins said.

Statistically, communities of color are more likely than other races to suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, but are less likely to seek help. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, fewer than 10% of black people struggling with mental health problems receive help.

Wiggins says the growing problem of community violence has a major impact on mental health, creating trauma that often goes unnoticed.

“Often what is seen as trauma are things that we have become accustomed to. It’s normal to hear gunshots, to see violence, to see death…” Wiggins said.

Wiggins hopes to spread the message that it’s okay not to be okay and that it’s important to seek help.

“Our suicide rates are the highest among our Black youth and I think that’s alarming and speaks to certain components of the pandemic such as isolation, lack of social emotional development, increased use of technology and interaction with social media,” Wiggins said.

Aimed at all ages, Trap Therapy events give people a chance to dance through pain while addressing inner issues first-hand. Participants go home with valuable tools to help them cope.

Trap Therapy events for youth and one for women were held during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Wiggins says Milwaukee cannot heal until its residents learn to heal themselves. She strives to continue taking responsibility for peace of mind for all.

“Everything I do is about making a mark but making a difference,” Wiggins said.

For more information on Trap Therapy and Speak Wellness click here.

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