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A Group Of Indigenous Men Are Biking To Promote Mental Health

Damen Bell-Holter


Former NBA player Damen Bell-Holter is concerned about the lack of mental health resources for men of color. Identifying as a Black man and a member of the Haida Nation, Bell-Holter has seen first hand how men of color often don't seek help for mental illnesses.

"I started working on my healing and seeing a therapist a couple of years ago. What happened was I kept getting matched up with White [therapists]. I thought to myself, as someone who's been working with Indigenous peoples for 11 years and I've done a ton of trauma courses, I have a better grip on our trauma than they do," Bell-Holter Said.

Bell-Holter said he believes providers need to understand issues like historical trauma that impact Indigenous communities.

Bell-Holter has dedicated his life to promoting mental wellness and youth mentorship. That's why he’s now leading a group of men on a cycling trip through Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico with the goal of breaking the silence surrounding the cycle and stigma of mental health for men of color. They've started Break the (BI)Cycle to open the conversation. They started their journey on the Wind River Reservation, and more than 800 miles later, they will finish up in Albuquerque this week.

Along the way, they have encouraged men of color to begin seeking any help they need.

"It's been a really cool experience because a lot of us have been able to challenge each other to work harder and push it. I know that I don't make it through many of these pushes— we did a 95-mile day from Tillamook to Portland [a while ago], and we rode uphill for 27 miles. I was with this guy named Nick Hanson, if I don't have him with me, I don't know if I make that," Bell-Holter said.

Different cyclists have joined various stretches of the trip. For them, the community has been an essential aspect of this journey. They have also used words such as brotherhood, love, and holistic to describe the trip.

So far, they've raised more than $9,000 via a GoFundme page for mental health initiatives in Indigenous communities. Their goal is to raise $100,000, in support of mental health initiatives across Western Canada and the U.S.

CooXooEii Black belongs to the Northern Arapaho tribe. He recently graduated from Colorado College, where he discovered his passion for writing. He graduated with a degree in English: Creative Writing and is currently attending The University of Memphis to receive his Master of Fine Art in poetry. His creative writing involves themes of cultural identity, cultural history, religion, and truth-telling. He thinks all art is connected somehow, and as a result, he is excited to try new modes of writing.
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