EMBRACE YOUR CROWN CAMPAIGN
By: Charlette Woodall
Fight the stigma.
What has been your experience with mental health? Are there any struggles you overcame or how do you hope to help others overcome theirs? Growing up, I understood mental health to be a requirement for those in need of extreme help. Mental health was not a routine or responsibility in our household; the practice was non-existent to me. After college, I worked with incarcerated women who suffered from various mental health along with substance use disorders. These extreme cases validated my perception of mental health; I believed I didn't fit into that "category." Ironically, I later saw I had more in common with the women than I initially thought. I didn't know how to process my emotions effectively or that I was holding on to traumas from years before; thus, I turned to use anger as an outlet. My anger became a giant disruption and consuming. I struggled with processing my emotions; I made it a responsibility to tap into finding relief. I struggled with communicating how I felt; I didn't know what I was feeling. I struggled with calming myself down or stepping away from confrontations. Through therapy, I learned exercises to help ground myself, feeling words to help associate with my anger, triggers were made aware, and I put boundaries in place to help protect myself. By being transparent with my experience, I hope it sheds light on how others can find their peace and let go of their internal chaos.
From your knowledge, what myths or negative stigmas have been attached to black mental health? If any, how did they shape your thoughts about getting help/going to therapy?
Black mental health was an anomaly. I witnessed common negative stigmas when hearing my brothers told not to cry because "boys don't cry" or ask for help showed "weakness." Black people have this misconception about the strength that it comes from independence and not interdependence. These stigmas shaped my life in this sense; I didn't cry or showed little emotion because I thought I would look weak. I wanted to be a strong black woman. After the building up of so many negative emotions, I cracked, and it was destructive. I knew it was time to seek help because I knew I didn't want to continue to be defined by those negative actions.
Have you ever been to therapy? Why or why not? On a scale of 1-5 how important is it to have a therapist that is culturally competent?
I've been in therapy for a year now. 5
If not, is there any reason why you were not able to seek therapy?
I couldn't afford therapy
I didn't know who to talk to or what to do to get better
I didn't think it was for me.
Lastly, what would make your experience with mental health better?
Culturally Competent Therapists; Affordable Therapy; Family Support
I continue to encourage everyone to make use of available resources because I am living proof it's possible.