How do you feel the arts impact our culture?
Poets such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelo, James Weldon Johnson, and James Baldwin painted vivid pictures of our culture through words. Those literary works have transcended their time and place in history and continue to impact how we see ourselves as a race. Musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday Ma Rainey and Mahalia Jackson made it ok for us to express ourselves musically in ways that were nontraditional during those times. Their contributions to this art can be found in all forms of modern music. Painters such as Henry Ossawa Tanner (the first Black painter to get international recognition for his work), Gwendolyn Knight, Alama Thomas and Jacob Lawrence showed us the vast spectrum of what it was like to be Black on canvas and other forms of media. The arts have played a significant role in our culture. From the way we dress, our slang /jargon, the images that we display of ourselves to the way we wear our hair came from the arts.
Tell us about your company and services.
The Mind and Therapy Clinic, PLLC provides professional and proficient mental health, substance abuse services, and consultation to individuals, families, and communities that has suffered general, social, cultural, generational, and complex traumatic events. Though our specialty is trauma we also provide services to address but not limited to Male Issues, Depression, Personality Disorder, Anxiety, Behavior Modification, Couples Counseling, Marriage Counseling, Addictions, and Co-Occurring Disorders.
What keeps you motivated in such an emotional industry?
Mental health is a tough industry to be in. What keeps me motivated is my belief that being a therapist is my calling or ministry. I really enjoy all my clients. Yes, even the difficult ones. When clients enter their sessions knowing that they are safe to share their lives with someone who genuinely cares, makes a difference for them. I have a very personable approach with my clients that allows sessions to run smoothly most of the time. This takes some of the stress off me as a therapist. Knowing my work is not only helping my clients but, the positive impact on their mental health has been appreciated by their families and communities. Lastly, my desire to make an impact in this field as a Black Male therapist by training others that look like me in providing adequate and culturally competent therapy is a plus.
Why is there a stigma with mental health and the African American community?
As African Americans we have been programed to view being emotionally or mentally unstable as weakness. Weakness in our culture has been something frowned upon for centuries. There were rites of passage rituals and activities conducted to test both physical and mental stamina amongst men and women in most African cultures. Those who were not able to pass these rigorous tasks were not allowed certain status in society or within their tribes. With this came shame or ridicule for not being man or woman enough to take your rightful place in your community. This type of mentality has transcended for generations and continues to exist in our
current communities. Therefore, we often don’t seek therapy or other treatment due to the shame or stigma that we are not tough enough to endure life issues. Also, we as a people are taught “what happens in the house, should remain in the house.” So, talking to a therapist, essentially a stranger is letting people in our “business”.
What can be done to encourage more men to participate in managing their mental health?
As men, we need to feel safe in expressing our emotions and sharing intimate details of our lives. Especially when it relates to areas where we feel incompetent or insecure. The way I have been able to gain that trust is to create an environment where they feel comfortable with sharing. My ability to normalize those issues they are struggling with has proven to be a key component in gaining and retaining male clients. Most of my male clients has shared their experiences with other men and referred them to me for therapy. So, to answer the question, it takes the ability to create a safe environment and to normalize certain issues for men to feel comfortable with managing their mental health.
What are some warning signs of depression?
Depression looks different for everyone. I will give you a personal example. During my divorce process several years ago. I became extremely overwhelmed. I experienced high levels of anxiety, hopelessness, shame, lack sleep, constant worrying, fear, stress, and my ability to maintain my quality of life daily was diminishing. There were moments when I became clingily to those around me because I felt abandoned. Over time those symptoms changed based on the stressors in my life. Based on my experience with depression I now know that when I begin to feel overly anxious, lack desire to do things that I normally enjoy doing, and start to have mood swings, I am in the pre-stages of depression. This means it is time to start implementing those strategies I have learned through therapy. In summary, depression has often been misconceived as a person being sad and feeling hopeless. Or someone who has reached the point of bottoming out. Depression is usually more present when there is a noticeable shift in a person's ability to maintain their quality of life daily (hygiene, increase or decrease in sleep, finances, work life, eating patterns, etc.). These symptoms can vary in severity depending on the person and situation.
How can we get in contact with you?
The Mind and Therapy Clinic, LLC