Grant winner expands mental health youth workshops

Lawrence Lovell accepting his grant award at PowerUp Kreyol last month. Lovell won prize money to invest into his workshops.
Gregg Richards

A local Brooklyn man is hoping to mentally heal Brooklyn’s youth with his therapy workshops.

Licensed mental health counselor Lawrence Lovell, recently won a cash prize at the second annual PowerUp Kreyol! competition — a business class series that awards innovative business owners of Haitian descent, with funding for their startups. Lovell will invest his money into his venture called “Breakthrough Solutions,” and is preparing to expand his workshops into something larger to serve more of Brooklyn’s youth.

“‘Breakthrough Solutions’ is about providing people a practical way to identify life issues that people may have, by developing coping skills, problem solving, and character building techniques, to foster a positive mindset, strong willpower, and emotional stability,” said Lovell, who works at local schools conducting mental health workshops.

“The most important thing with mental health is to have emotional stability,” he said. “I’m doing workshops in after school settings and I travel to different places, but I want to create a place where someone can receive family counseling.”

Lovell studied mental health services at Stony Brook University, where he also played football and was originally studying business administration. He delved into therapy studies after he discovering the subjects resonated with him.

“I first worked with children at a daycare center. That positive experience of working with kids influenced me to want to learn more about service related fields,” said Lovell. “I took a few courses in mental health and it opened a new world to me and I decided to start my graduate degree in mental health counseling.”

Now working full-time as a counselor, he gives back to his community by providing a service for the often taboo subject of mental health, which is still stigmatized in the black community — especially among men he says.

“It’s still an issue that exists. Being part of the black community, I’m glad that I’m able to help break the stigma as a black male licensed mental health counselor willing to discuss mental health issues openly while providing workshops and speaking,” said Lovell. “The black community has begun to understand the role mental health plays in their overall wellness.”

Lovell currently leads several workshops focused on communication, where he teaches them at PS 21 and PS 137 reaching junior high and high school students. He focuses on young men, teaching them how to cope with anger issues, expressing themselves, but his end goal is providing everyone with service.

“I’ve been striving to be a positive impact in the community. It’s been great to see how counseling, workshops, and speaking can influence the family dynamic, the workplace, and relationships.” said Lovell. “We all have a capacity to help others whether that’s helping one person or many people. I’m trying to stretch my capacity to help others effectively as much as I can.”

As Lovell prepares to expand his program to college students, he says creating his own clinic in East Flatbush, or anywhere in Brooklyn is on his agenda.

“I really like being in the neighborhood,” said Lovell. “It would be great to open a clinic in East Flatbush or in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Lovell begins expanding his workshop as he is set to teach a workshop at Saint John’s University at the end of this month.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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