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

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. 

Continue reading “What REALLY happens in family therapy? ~Nedra Tawwab, LCSW”

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 Continue reading “The Stigma of Mental Health in the African American Community ~ Leticia Reed, LCSW”

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. Continue reading “SPEAK OUT: Christina shares her story about Depression.”

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. Continue reading “3 things that could impact our conversation on Mental Health”

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.     Continue reading “Self-Care Tip: Protect your Happiness”

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.   Kendra’s … Continue reading The Founder of Speak Away the Stigma shares her story