Kofi Siriboe’s mini documentary ask “WTF Is Mental Health?”

Most people know Kofi Siriboe from the OWN television drama series, Queen Sugar, where he plays Ralph Angel Bordelon, a Louisiana native struggling to get it right as son, a brother and father.  In real life,  Kofi Siriboe is using his using his own struggles to create a platform for a much needed discussions around mental health in the Black community.

 “WTF Is Mental Health?”  is a  newly released short form documentary directed by Kofi Siriboe.  Siriboe shared some thoughts on mental health and the Black community in a recent Huffington Post articleI feel like with mental health, people always react negatively.  We kinds have a lot of stigma in our community and in society in general..”, he goes on to say “Everybody doesn’t have that language and doesn’t understand that there is a community or world out there of people who are dealing with similar things, so I really want to explore what it is and what it means to us”.

The short documentary, will likely appeal to many of us in the Black community and young people in general. When people that look like you and use similar language as you open up about mental health, in a way  it gives you permission to do the same, especially if you were never told it is OK to talk about it.  The stigma of  addressing mental health and mental illness is one things that cripples our community.  Siriboe says “If we don’t admit what’s going on to ourselves, we’re gonna keep hurting in silence, which is killing us twice as much as our Caucasian counterparts. No one is gonna talk about it because it’s taboo,” he said. “That’s what I wanna end.”  “WTF Is Mental Health?” is a companion piece to short film Siriboe made last year, JUMP, after losing a mentor and big brother figure to suicide.

Watch the short documentary below as young people share their experiences about dealing with their own mental health.  It is sure to inspire young and older generations to think about what mental health means to them.

Photo via ABC News


A Hidden Pain: Anxiety & Depression

This submission is a part of Lauren Hope’s #MentalHealthMondayMondays series at Good Girl Chronicles

Avoidance. I’ve come up with so many excuses not to write these blogs about mental health. I’ve pressed snooze on my alarm clock on days I was supposed to write. I blamed my period. Told myself I needed a mental break, and then convinced myself that no one cared anyway. I’m sorry. I had promised Facebook followers in the month of February every Monday I’d write about an aspect of my mental health journey or someone else brave enough to share. I even found one brave soul who is still waiting to share her story. I have to ask myself, “Why have I been pushing off this blog?”

 

L. Hope quote

Sometimes I don’t want to be the depressed, anxiety attack prone girl. In 2016, I became a real bold mental health advocate. I spoke publicly at huge venues about suicide, depression, and anxiety. Yet, I won’t lie there are many days I wish depression, anxiety, and suicide never knew my name. Depression and suicide are the main reasons I had to walk away from television news career and I’m afraid it’s the reason I can’t get back in. I am mad at it, and sometimes even madder that an anti-depressant is not an instant fix. It’s not a 21-day pill regimen or something I take until symptoms improve. I will ALWAYS have to take that little orange pill to keep the darkness away. ALWAYS. There are so many days I feel weak, damaged, and abnormal because I have severe depression. A condition of the mind no one can see or sometimes even understand.

I was first prescribed an anti-depressant when I was sixteen, a little blue pill called Buspar. When I was on it, I was extra alert, calm, and focused. I wasn’t as forgetful, and the intense pain I felt in my chest when I was anxious didn’t come as much. A gentle, kind Navy doctor explained ….continue reading here


What REALLY happens in family therapy? ~Nedra Tawwab, LCSW

Want to know if family counseling is beneficial for you? 
 
Black people are starting to be more open and vocal about the benefits of the counseling process. Celebrities such as Charlamagne Tha God, Jennifer Lewis, and Keke Palmer have spoken about how their families impacted their mental health which led to them seeking counseling. Many of the issues that individuals face were observed in their family of origin. Too often, family counseling is used under duress or when an intervention is needed on a particular family member. Family counseling is not intended to be biased toward one family member over the other. It is meant to allow attendees to address issues in the family system. When one person has an issue with the family, the entire family unit is impacted. For instance, if a parent has issues taking care of the kids and leans on other family members for finial support, the other family members are now involved and therefore impacted. 
 
Who comes to Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a counseling process for two or more members in a family unit. A family is identified as a couple, siblings, mother-daughter, parents-children, etc. In many, cases families seek counseling to address communication issues, death, divorce, substance abuse or changes to the family dynamics. Family counseling is useful for families who have long-term patterns of dysfunctional such as substance abuse and sexual/physical abuse, changes in relationships structure such as divorce and those who want to learn how to be in healthy relationships with one another. 
 
What to Expect
Prior to entering counseling, families may not have the tools to sort through issues or they may not have the language to identify their needs and feelings. In a family counseling session, the therapist will establish rules and assess the expectations of the family. The biggest myth in family counseling is that  “my opinion will not be heard.” The therapist will allow everyone the opportunity to speak, will summarize relevant information and ask questions for deeper probing. Each family member is granted the opportunity to speak so that no one person is monopolizing the conversation. If one person seems to be talking more than others, the therapist will ask for others to speak and respond. The family will establish mutually agreed upon goals for counseling and identify how they’d like to function post counseling.  Therapists strive to be fair. Therefore, when working with families therapist will develop a structure to make sure the everyone is heard. 

Read More


The Stigma of Mental Health in the African American Community ~ Leticia Reed, LCSW

The Problem

According to statistics more than 19 million are diagnosed with some form of depressive disorder and the numbers are continuing to grow. African Americans contribute to only 13% of the nation’s population and are over represented in most statistics in regard to most societal ills. Incarceration, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, mortality rates for heart disease and the mortality rates breast cancer for African American women as well as Mental illness, are societal ills that are affecting the community. Due to the stigma surrounding around Mental Health, African Americans are most often left either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, therefore not receiving adequate care needed to treat their presenting problems. As a result, most in this category may oftentimes endure chronic homelessness, substance abuse issues and a cycle of incarceration due to their mental health issues, becoming increasingly worst in some cases and posing a significant safety risk to self and others. Moreover, mental health related issues are masked by physical health issues such as: diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, stoke and obesity from depression related overeating which African Americans continue to be plagued with in very high numbers. However, many African Americans, like the rest of the population, most times, rather treat their physiological issues due to society’s acceptance of physical health versus mental health issues, which we have all continually witnessed the tragic ramification of mass shootings due to unaddressed mental health issues.

This continues to lead to circular and unresolved discussions about gun laws with the subject of mental health being swept under the rug in the end. Lack of attention to any issue will gives birth to growing misconceptions and myths which we have seen.

Historical Background of Current Stigma of Mental Health in African American Community

Issues contributing to the current myths and misconceptions deter many African Americans from seeking mental health treatment include, but at not limited to the following:

A) Distrust towards the medical system due to a historical deception of bureaucracy systems

ie. Tuskegee Experiment

B) Racial biases by medical professionals servicing African Americans

C) Lack of insurance and monetary resources to access and receive optimal care

D) Religious Faith beliefs

E) Fear of being labeled as “crazy” by loved ones.

How Myth are Perpetuated

In my years of practice, I’ve often had clients report that they were attending sessions with me in secrecy due to fearing being ostracized by their loved ones Read More


3 Reasons the world should NOT be your therapist!

This was originally posted during Mental Health Awareness Month as a feature on www.chaneerobinson.com.

At this point the Kanye interview has been seen and  heard around the world. As a Kanye West fan and an admirer of Charlamagne the God’s interviewing style, the anticipation was real.  After his trip to TMZ, the anticipation was pretty much dead. I was not interested in hearing anything Kanye related for a few days. I did my best to scroll past any mention of it on social media, but finally I listened to the segments of the interview with Charlamagne on The Breakfast Club podcast.  Please keep reading my friends, this is not an analysis or my “woke” thoughts on Kanye, Charla, or the interview. This is about the very first thing I heard that made me pause and give a side eye like I was sitting next to Ye.

Kanye West, a musical genius to some, confidently told  Charalamage “I use the world as my therapist, anyone I talk to is my therapist…” .  He goes on to say how he pulls people aside to talk to and to get their perspective. He also mentioned how he will keep friends and family on the phone for 45 minutes at time to “talk through things”.

There are many reasons to NOT use the world, your friends or even your mama, as your therapist.  I know many African-Americans were taught that “therapy is for white people” or we were told “you will be OK” and we even tell our kids “what goes on in this house stays in this house!” , but when there has been mental or emotional trauma there has to be healing and our friends and family cannot heal us and here’s why:

Click here to continue reading……


SPEAK OUT: Christina shares her story about Depression.

“ I think I’m depressed”

“What makes you say that?”

“Well, I am sad all of the time, I don’t want to do sh*t, and this isn’t like me”

This is a conversation I had with myself a few years ago.  Yeah, this was one of those conversations you have in your head, but some of questions you answer out loud.  For months I knew something wasn’t right because I’d been feeling down. I’d have periods that I felt OK, but my overall mood for months was sad.  Outside of being sad, I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I was irritable, and always tired (more than usual). I would either overeat, or not eat at all and I had difficulty focusing on my job.  For months I felt like I couldn’t get a grip on my life and I began to feel the affects. I gained weight, I quit pursuing my Master’s degree, lost my desire to go out with friends and I eventually got fired for my low performance.

CL-Depression 2

What brought on my depression?:  The short and simple answer is I was trying to handle all that life was throwing at me on my own.  (This is my opinion before therapy)  What I learned in therapy was all that I had been through led me to believe certain things about myself.  In addition to learning how to ask for help, I had to unlearn a lot of shit, and learn a new way to look at myself and how I responded to life. Read More


3 things that could impact our conversation on Mental Health

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”-MLK

Mental health,  self-care, and therapy are words that we are seeing almost daily.  From the news to social media, the conversation about mental health is increasing, but is it decreasing the stigma?  Are we more educated on mental health and mental illness than ever before?  The current conversation mental health proves that there is still a lot of work to do.

On February 14, 2018 a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and when he left, 33 people had been shot.  On February 15, 2018 news stories began telling the story of the accused gunman and words like “troubled” and “depressed” were used.  Those words gave way for many people to blame “mental health issues” for this terrible crime.  The accused gunman had never been diagnosed with a mental illness, yet many Americans believe that our mental health system failed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that fateful day.

Despite the increased talk about it, despite celebrities opening up about going to therapy and their own diagnosis of mental health conditions, there is still a stigma that mental illness and violence go hand in hand.  In reality, most people with a mental illness are not violent.  Maybe we need to shift the conversation, get more specific and  be more inclusive. Read More


Self-Care Tip: Protect your Happiness

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”

I was scrolling social media recently and saw someone’s post about some things they had been going through. The only thing I remember from that post was “I had to protect my happiness.” This stood out to me because as much as we always hear people talk about how to be happy, and where we can find it. When do we discuss protecting and maintaining that happiness, once we have found it? Being able to honestly and wholeheartedly say “I AM HAPPY” can take a lot of work, so knowing how to protect that precious feeling once we have it, is worth discussing. Here are three ways you can protect your happiness no matter where you are in life.     Read More


The Founder of Speak Away the Stigma shares her story

Author Kendra Bell  host the podcast “Calming Sense” where she discusses mental health related topics.  Kendra reached out to find out more about Speak Away the Stigma and what led Christina Lattimore to become a Mental Health Advocate.  Check out Calming Sense and find out more about Christina, how mental illness has impacted her family and the future plans for Speak Away the Stigma.  img_0234

Kendra’s book, Battle Scars of the Mind: Do You Have What It Takes to Overcome the Enemy’s Temptations? is available on Amazon.  “Using biblical narratives and personal stories of others overcoming atrocities, Kendra brings a much needed, fresh insight to the important issues we face in our society. Using compassion and empathy, she shows you how to:
•Challenge negative thoughts
•Embrace healing
•Avoid temptation using biblical principles
•Overcome rejection
•Receive the gift of forgiveness, grace, and mercy
•Live a life of redemption”

**The November event PTSD & Her has been pushed back, however there will be a different awareness event in October or November!  Sign up to get our updates so you’ll be the first to know about our next event**

 


15 Questions for Your Consideration

“People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding…”  Deepika Padukone

 Whenever there is a story about someone with a mental health condition in the news there are a wide range of comments and questions.  No matter if the person was killed, injured themselves or someone else, or if they are just displaying odd behavior, one question that will be found in the comments section:  “Where is the family?”.  While it is  a simple question, the answer can get complicated.

Most recently videos of Maia Campbell have surfaced, and there was a call for LL Cool J to help her (Her mother Bebe Moore Campbell passed away in 2006).  While it is easy to @ someone or retweet the call for help, Mr. Todd Smith, or anyone else, may find if difficult to extended the helping hand she truly needs.

I say this not to discourage anyone from helping someone with a mental health condition, but to help people understand that getting help for an adult isn’t easy.  I don’t want this post to discourage anyone with a mental health condition from opening up to their loved ones, many people that have been diagnosed are living great lives.

The point of this post is to help people understand that helping can get complicated and a support system is necessary (as with any other illness).  Without awareness and proper funding those that struggle with a mental illness will continue have trouble getting help and those that want to help their loved ones will have trouble finding and accessing the resources.

In minority households getting help for a loved one can be difficult because of money, time, awareness and the stigma associated with mental illness in our communities.

Here is a list of questions (and things to remember) I would like people to think about if your your adult daughter, sister, cousin, best friend, mother, wife or child’s mother had a mental health breakdown and was diagnosed with a serious mental illness?  (This could result in the loss of income, a home, or extended hospital stays)  

  1. Would you be embarrassed OR empathetic for your loved one?

In my opinion you can be both.

  1. Who would you turn to in order to get her the help she needs?

Maybe the better question how do you get them to agree to help because you cannot force an adult to go to the doctor.

  1. Would you let her stay in your home?

Remember she could lose her home because of the inability to hold down a job

  1. Would you try to get her admitted for inpatient treatment?

Remember, she is an adult  and she has rights.

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay her medical bills?

Hospitals aren’t free…..

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for her medication?

Neither is medication…….

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for basic necessities?

They will need food, clothes, underwear, toiletries…..

  1. Would you have the time to help her get public assistance?

Public assistance may be available but there is an application process.

  1. Would you make the time and effort to ensure she takes her medicine every day?

Again this is an adult and just like most of us when we start to feel better, we stop taking medicine.

  1. How would you get access to speak to her doctor, because doctor patient privileges…..

Yes, this still exist if your loved one has been diagnosed with an illness.

  1. How would you respond when your love one complains about the side effects of the medication?

A few side effects of  medications can include headaches, nausea, tremors, skin rash, fever.

  1. Would you have the money to help pay for an attorney?

It may be to get a Power of Attorney or Guardianship or Custody of children

  1. Would you be be worried about opening up to your friends and neighbors? What do you think they would say?

Many people feel shame when it comes to a loved one’s diagnosis.

  1. Who would you turn to for support for yourself?

Self-care must be a priority if you are helping care for someone else, maybe even get a therapist.

  1. How would you explain the illness to children in the family?

Yes, they deserve an honest explanation.

Read the list of questions again, but replace mental health breakdown with Epilepsy, Cancer, or Rheumatoid Arthritis.   Are the questions easier to answer?  Are your answers the same?