BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) —A total of $400,000 in federal money is pouring into Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies to study Black mental health.

Leaders have shined a light on what they call, a suicide crisis, as numbers continue to rise.

“If the kids don’t feel the warmth in a village, they will burn it down to feel it,” said Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies Psychiatrist Dr. Denese Shervington.

She said young Black people are crying out for help.

“It was finding friends and colleagues who shared the same love for children and saying, let’s do something. And I think we got this gift. Here’s a grant it can help gather resources and support the work,” she said.

The grant was sent down by the Department of Health and Human Services and aims to support research and policy changes when it comes to Black mental health in Louisiana.

“From guidance, counseling, having people that are on the ground able to talk to people, having the ability to do a diagnostic of a young person, a person that comes in so we can determine exactly what are the issues associated with their needs,” said Congressman Troy Carter (D).

Carter said Black children under the age of 13 are twice as likely to die by suicide compared to white kids the same age.

“It is one of those issues that we have swept under the rug for far too long, shame on us if we don’t apply resources on the front end to mitigate these problems before they become at their height,” he said.

They have looked to tackle this issue and turn the tide because they said a win for the child is a win for the community.

“We have opportunities for our young people to engage in wholesome activities, to be productive members of our society, and then, in the long run, the money that we invest on the front end to assist our young people is money that we save later,” said Carter.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the hotline at 9-8-8. It is available to you 24/7.