Founded in 2019 by Christopher LeMark, Coffee Hip Hop and Mental Health is a 501(c)(3) community organization dedicated to normalizing therapy and mental health discussions through fundraising efforts, live arts programming and feeding the community. Since its inception, CHHAMH has held café pop-ups throughout Chicago to sell various coffee drinks, merch and snacks to raise money to send people to therapy, and now the organization has found a more permanent home, recently opening doors this fall to a 2,200 square foot coffee shop in Lakeview at 1051 West Belmont Avenue.
To date, over $1.2 million dollars have been raised to help cover the costs of individual and group therapy, café operations, payroll, food/holiday drives, and additional community programming. Over 4,900+ people have attended CHHAMH’s weekly group therapy sessions, healing circles and therapeutic resources offered at various locations around the city. The group’s work has been featured on The Today Show, NBC News, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Roland Martin Unfiltered and by the Obama Foundation, and LeMark’s unique model gained the attention of major brands such as AT&T, Pinterest, Mariano’s and the Rancilio Group, who have since partnered with him on various events to fight poor mental health, social injustice, systemic racism, and overall welfare in Chicago.
“There are so many social and health barriers in Black communities with a lack of resources,” says LeMark. “Lack of access to quality healthcare, economic stability, resources, and basic survival needs plague individuals and families alike, making it a challenge to be receptive to therapy and its benefits. We can complain and look away, or we can do something about it. This is our way of doing something about it; launching their healing journeys with hopes of changing community and family dynamics.”
The menu at the Coffee Hip Hop and Mental Health café consists of traditional coffee drinks, as well as specialty drinks such as Biggie's Brown Sugar Cayenne Latte and Lil Kim’s Dirty Caramel Latte, as well as non-caffeinated drinks such as Lauryn Hill’s Blueberry Lavender Lemonade and White Sox Versus Cubs Lemonade and Cold Brew Blend. The donation-based cafe model allows the organization to fundraise daily with the goal to match 20 people or families a month in therapy and 250 people for the year. CHHAMH also offers free yoga at the space each Saturday from 7 am to 7:45 pm, free group therapy with a licensed therapist each Sunday and free hot meals are provided to the community every Monday night starting at 5:30pm until they are out.
In 2023, look for Coffee Hip Hop and Mental Health to expand offerings with after-school and youth programming, wellness resource offerings such as sound therapy, walk-in speed/in-house therapy sessions, monthly networking brunches for therapists, hip-hop cyphers, book clubs, and more.