Local entrepreneur hosts mental health mutual aid for community after Ida


Beautiful Bipolar hosted the event to support community members after Hurricane Ida

Amy K. Nelson knew she needed to do something to support her community in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida after her neighbor died of heatstroke in the eight days the Bywater was out of power.
As founder of Beautiful Bipolar, an event production company centered around mental health healing and wellness based in New Orleans, Nelson hosted Mental Health Mutual Aid Sunday Sept. 19 at the Material Institute, inspired to reach those in the city recovering from the disaster.
The free event was open to the public with vendors of all kinds, including mental health professionals hosting support groups, massage therapists and tarot card readers.
Nelson said part of the urgency of a disaster includes mental health help.
“Community care is self care,” she said.
Amina Massey, the strategy and operations director at the Material Institute, helped Nelson book the space to host the event, which was made available after the storm knocked out the institute’s programming.
After Hurricane Ida, the material institute made an announcement to the community that it was available as a space if needed to distribute resources. Nelson reached out, and they made the event happen.
Massey said the institute is especially sensitive to the community after the hurricane with all its students being local.
‘It’s an honor for me to be able to lend any support,” Massey said.
Branna Elenz, who attended the event Sunday, said she found it on Instagram. Elenz said she appreciated Mental Health Mutual Aid for being a space where she didn’t have to make small talk.
She said that mental health is not a topic that is talked about enough and that there should be more things like what Beautiful Bipolar is doing in the city.
New Orleans struggles with affordable and accessible mental care, according to Nelson, and with the events she hosts with Beautiful Bipolar, she said she hopes to create safe spaces for those in the community struggling.
“I can’t solve the issue but I can try to chip away at it,” Nelson said.
Bipolar disorder affects nearly six million adult Americans over the age of 18 every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and Nelson hopes to destigmatize the illness.
Nelson was a professional journalist for 15 years before moving to New Orleans from New York City in 2014 after a mental health crisis. Nelson said she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years ago and was inspired to do something that would support mental health healing.
Queenly Conjure, a pop-up tearoom owned by Reina, a rootworker, offered its services to Beautiful Bipolar Sunday as a vendor.
Reina described her business as a traditional folk magic tea room, where herbs help people heal their spirits, minds and environments.
She said the work she is doing with Beautiful Bipolar in helping and healing others is something she will always feel a need for.
“We only really have each other,” she said. “It’s the foundation of being human.”