Melissa Collins Harrell, M.Ed., MPH, LCMHCS
Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit and learn more about my work. Being a lifelong learner I feel the most alive when I can use my knowledge and experiences to help others. My work as an individual therapist is rewarding, but the world we live in demands new methods. Taking the expertise I have gained in over twenty years of clinical mental health practice, I offer groundbreaking information and hands on tools related to mental wellness that truly transforms lives.
I am a North Carolina native who has a heart for rural health and caregivers. Growing up in a rural area I saw first hand the challenges of care in rural settings. Hailing from a long line of caregivers, I saw the physical and mental toll that takes. The focus tends to be on those who are ill, but both sides need strong support. My father died at age 49 of colon cancer. My mother, a nurse, died at age 52 of complications from mental illness. For both conditions they had to drive over an hour from home to receive care. Improved access to prevention and treatment in their own community could have drastically changed these outcomes. My hope is that through this work others will have more life in both quality and quantity of years.
I grew up in the foothills of Western North Carolina where I earned an associate degree from Surry Community College. I then moved across the state to Greenville, N.C. to attend East Carolina University (ECU) where I received a B.S. in dance education (K-12). After graduation I worked in Goldsboro, NC as a music and movement teacher at Protestant Preschool while also teaching at The School of Goldsboro Ballet. During this time, I continued my education by earning a Master of Education with a concentration in counseling from Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
My first mental health work experience was serving as a school counselor with Wayne County Public Schools. I then obtained advanced hours of clinical experience to license as a clinical counselor in North Carolina. For twenty years I have provided individual, marriage, and family counseling services for various ages and issues. It has also brought me great joy to create free community support groups such as H.E.A.R.T. for Moms, a postpartum depression support group and Footprints, a grief support group for pregnancy and infant loss.
As the years progressed, I was deeply disturbed by the dire lack of funding and limited access to all types of health services for my clients in rural areas. Not knowing what else to do I did the one thing I knew best, returned to school. In 2017, I earned my Master’s in Public Health from Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, along with a certificate in Ethnic and Rural Health Disparities.
In May 2017, Eastern NC was still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew , so I began to put my new skills to work as a supervisor for the crisis outreach program, HOPE 4 NC. This program provided mental health services to survivors in Eastern NC. Sadly, Hurricane Florence brought more destruction in 2018 and I served as a regional project manager for HOPE 4 NC.
In 2018, I founded Resiliency Counseling & Consulting, PLLC. Though this business, I have provided exceptional services and programs. I continue to promote community level mental wellness with an emphasis on trauma awareness, burnout prevention, and self care for caregivers. I have presented on a wide range of topics related to mental health at the community, state, and national level. I strongly believe that improving education and support for mental wellness is the answer to many of our pressing social issues such as poverty, high rates of chronic disease, violence, and substance abuse.
I have been blessed along my journey to have opportunities to serve as a global child health advocate, with Unearth Hope and Zoe Empowers. I serve as a health educator in Guatemala. I distribute sustainable menstrual hygiene kits while providing women with education about their bodies and health. I serve as an advocate for ZOE Empowers, which transforms the lives of orphans through a unique empowerment model. I was so inspired by one of the children in the program that in 2016, I wrote a children’s book, Elizabeth and Stella Meet ZOE, to educate children on the plight of poverty in African nations.
In 2022, I published my second book Common Threads, which shares my personal and professional journey through mental illness. For self-care, I enjoy reading, writing, yoga, and exploring historical sites, particularly early churches. It is my deepest desire that your life or the life of your organization is improved by my work.