Why Mental Health is So Important to People of Color

As a Black man, I am continuously aware of some of the stigmas surrounding mental health from both a gender- and race-related perspective. More often than not, people of color feel that these services may make them look weak or that they are broken. However, taking proactive approaches – whether it be simple wellness practices such as yoga or meditation or more substantive ones such as structured therapy – could not show more strength.  As a licensed clinician myself, as well as someone reared by a parent with clinical depression, this is a topic very close to home. Quite frankly, seeing my parent struggle to hold conversations and even maintain simple tasks at home because of crippling depression, has molded me into someone passionate in the fight to remove stigmas around mental health. As a professor of psychology, I sought to infuse much of my own experiences in the area of mental health to help frame the minds of future educators and clinicians. In our current culture, with the pandemic as the backdrop and social media serving constant pressure to promote life not always rooted in truth, the presence of depression consistently lingers – as we have seen in suicide reports. Finally, I implore my fellow people of color to ignore some of the antiquated stereotypes of seeking therapy [...]

2022-02-10T10:38:52-05:00February 10th, 2022|Lived Experience, Mental Health, Racial Equity|

Stress and College

Clenched teeth, locked jaw, tension shooting up my shoulders and neck, feeling heavy as if my legs were glued to the floor, tightness in my low back set in, and finally a pounding headache crashed into my frontal lobes. Stress! My name is Liam, and I’m a junior in the Public Health program at Temple University. Lately I’ve been dwelling on stress (literally).  Last semester was full of surprises. I was already late to register for my summer classes, scrambling to find a course before the deadline, all while in the process of moving, losing family to gun violence, not to mention dealing with burnout and vicarious trauma from work. At the top of this long list: social isolation due to the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations. Tired, worrying I wouldn't get a course in time, I stumbled across one of the remaining courses available: ‘Stress Management’. I assumed it would be about deep breathing, and healthy social networks, which are both important, but instead the course focused more on the mind-body connection and interactivity. This course taught me a lot about myself. As a master procrastinator, I do everything at the very last minute. This is accompanied with awfulizing (constantly worrying about the “what if’s” in life), not to mention the chronic back pain. Stress become that “friend” who always [...]

2021-11-10T20:47:35-05:00November 10th, 2021|Lived Experience, Self-Help, Stress|

Connection Can Save Lives

Realizing a friend is struggling with suicide can feel scary and overwhelming. It can feel impossible to pull someone from those depths. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation with a close friend. Life seemed to be getting busier for both of us. What I didn’t realize was that my friend was actively withdrawing from those around him. He was still reeling from the death of his father and his romantic relationship ending all while starting a new job in a strenuous field. During this time, I extended my sympathies and tried to be empathetic, but he didn’t seem interested in anything deeper than surface level conversations.  I felt a distance growing between us. I was concerned about him, but it wasn’t until I received a frantic message from a family member who explained how pervasive his withdrawal has been. That is when I started to feel scared, overwhelmed, and worried that I missed my opportunity to “save him.” I reached out several times without luck. It wasn’t until I connected with him in person that we were able to talk about what has been going on. He was struggling with thoughts of suicide and most of what he expressed I already knew, but what I didn’t know is that the absence of connection also played into his slow [...]

2021-09-22T16:18:38-04:00September 3rd, 2021|Lived Experience, Suicide Prevention|

Hope

by Margaret Pelleriti, DBHIDS Suicide Prevention Task Force What does it mean to have hope? Hope means a desire for things to change for the better, and to want that better situation very much. Hope carries us beyond the current hardship so that we may have a better future. In today’s world, it seems that hope can be hard to come by and this tends to be the case for anyone who has lost someone to suicide. My name is Margaret and several years ago, I lost my son Michael, then 16, to suicide. Prior to my loss, suicide never really affected me. To me, it was always other people who faced that tragedy. Not something that would affect myself or my family. When I lost my son to suicide, he was in the 11th grade and did not present any clear warning signs or clues. When he died, I genuinely believed that I would die also. There would be no way that I would be able to survive. I knew that I had to get up each day and do the same routine as before. I was still a wife to my husband and a mother to a 13-year-old daughter. It felt like family and friends expected me to return to some sort of normal. I had faith from [...]

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