So, I figured I would just jump right into the heart of the matter. I created this website to spread awareness about mental health, particularly black mental health. As a therapist, I am wholeheartedly in support of taking care of ourselves…mind, body, and spirit. I believe that self-care should be holistic and serve us in the ways that we need to be served. With that being said, I know that we understand the value of seeking medical expertise for our bodies and seeking God, or the universe, or whomever you seek for spiritual fulfillment, but we oftentimes neglect our mental health because we are not taught to take care of ourselves.
On a contemporary note, as a woman, and a woman of color, selfishness is not a habit that I was taught. I was taught to take care of everyone and their needs. The lesson was not directly taught that I shouldn’t take care of myself. Rather, it was that I take care of everyone’s needs so that by the time I was done with that, there was never any energy left to do anything for myself. I carried that behavior into adulthood and motherhood until my training as a therapist. The issue then became, undoing a lifetime of lessons, with this newfound knowledge. So, naturally, I struggled with making these changes in my own life.
On a historical note, the Black community is rife with trauma because of our history and ongoing societal environments. We have only to turn on a TV and see images of ourselves portrayed negatively or being reminded that we should feel less than. I think we understand estimate the toll the constant barrage of negative images has on us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Embracing selfishness allows us to enforce self-care techniques to replenish ourselves. Healthy mental health practices do not have to only apply if we are in crisis or dealing with trauma or a mental health disorder. The goal is to become proactive in our mental health practices so that we are actively taking care of ourselves.
Some may feel that mental health illness only affects other races and culture, but that is incorrect. Mental Health America (MHA) reported that adult Black Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites and Black Americans are more likely to experiences feelings of sadness and worthlessness. In addition, Black Americans teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers. For my Caribbean family, if you think this is just an American problem, I am here to tell you, it is not. Check out this article from June 2017 in the Jamaica Observer.
My next few blogs will be on this topic which will be posted weekly. My challenge to you is to spend time reflecting on your own emotional, mental, and spiritual journey and tell me your thoughts about the value of taking care of your mental health.