Mental Health Monday #17: Dating with mental illness, saving lives with action over prayer, mental wellness apps, etc.

Greetings, Earthling. Welcome to another round of Mental Health Monday, your weekly dose of stories, resources, and motivation for your everyday life. On the last roundup, we shared some goodness about singer Laura Mvula's journey with anxiety, a documentary on the mental health of college students by a Howard University student, a psychologist who prescribes books over pills, and much more. Have a gander.

If you missed #GetSomeJoy: A Blackstravaganza for Mental Health Awareness, here's a recap of what had happened that night.


I’m A Pastor Who Refuses To Pray Black Trauma Away

As faith leaders, we can set a powerful example by preaching from our own experience. I have spoken openly about my battles with depression, and how I turned not only to my faith but to mental health professionals for help. Telling my story to congregants, colleagues, and friends has helped others feel comfortable doing the same, and helped them have the courage to seek treatment.

"America Keeps Criminalizing Autistic Children" by David M. Perry [Pacific Standard]

Why would a school cop in Florida throw a slender, autistic fourth-grade student to the ground? You might assume that the child must have presented some kind of serious threat to himself or others, that other skilled experts had already tried de-escalating interventions, and that there was no other choice. Such was not the case for 10-year-old Seraph Jones. This spring, a school cop threw him down and held him against the ground with sufficient force to cause rug burn.

It turns out that Seraph's worst day at school—so far—happened because he was clicking a key too loudly, then ended up trapped in a situation where he had no good way to safely calm down.

"Just Give It 7 Seconds" by Leah Beckman [Jezebel]

Do not, under any circumstances, think about any interaction you’ve had with another human being for longer than seven seconds. So you got weird at your office Christmas party. Give it a full seven seconds, and release it.

"Broken Dreams And Financial Illusions: The Secret Depression Of Black Men" by Dr. Marcus Bright [HuffPo]

There is a secret depression that is rooted in economics that many Black men battle. It is hidden underneath an assortment of layers including an exaggerated bravado, drug and alcohol abuse, misdirected anger, and other forms of destructive behavior. Fantastical illusions are also a tool that is deployed to cope with the humbling realities of an often marginalized existence.

The “Bow Wow Challenge” that took over social media earlier in the month was a reflection of a daily pattern of illusions for many. Some aspect of Bow Wow fronting like he was traveling on a private plane instead of his actual reality of flying coach on a commercial airline is frequently in operation for Black people in this country.

"This New App Could Revolutionise Mental Health Care In The Black Community" CherryCasey [Buzzfeed]

Sait has launched Recovr – an app that helps young black adults (ages 18-35) with mental health problems seek professional treatment from black therapists and counsellors. The service also offers subsidised treatment to eligible users, depending upon their income and the severity of their mental health concerns.

Rapper Waka Flocka Flame sat down with Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh to talk about his life, his struggles, losing his brothers and friendships, and self-medicating with weed and pills.

"Jail Creates Mental Health Woes for Black Men" [Black Health Matters]

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and Texas A&M found an association between African-American men with a history of incarceration and adverse mental health issues. For the purposes of the study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, those issues were defined as psychological distress and depressive symptoms.

Compared to other African-American men, those who have been imprisoned have 14 percent, 13 percent and 16 percent higher severity of depression, distress and discrimination, respectively.

"The Secret to My Success? Antidepressants" by Juliana Fierro

A few months ago, I gave a reading at a local bookstore. A small but enthusiastic crowd attended, and I confessed to the audience filled with emerging writers that I had, in my 20s and early 30s, stopped writing for eight years, and that I had accepted I’d never write again. Then someone asked, “How did you return to writing?”

I decided to tell the truth: Zoloft.

"I Got Something To Tell You...Coming Out To Bae About Mental Illness" by Tia Brown [Cassius Life]

So when do you come out of the closet?

The answer won’t be the same for every situation but a good indicator is when you’re starting to feel like your history is a secret you work at hiding. The reality is you may never be “ready” to share, but this isn’t just about you. The time to disclose should be determined by the level of emotional and physical intimacy your are developing with the other individual.

"If You Have An Anxiety Attack And No One Is Around To Hear It, You Still Make A Sound" by Erica B [HuffPo]

Almost every moment that I’ve disclosed my disorder to anyone, with the exception of my parents, close friends, and my therapist, has felt like this one. I have been made to feel as if I’m imagining my panic attacks, by people I once held near. I’ve been told that I need more church, more sleep, more things to “do.”

My anxiety makes me feel noiseless to others like I don’t rattle or shake for reason or no reason at all. It makes me feel invisible, as folks point their fingers and strikethrough my words.

Are you a Black mental health professional? Do you know one? Alex is building a hub for Black wellness. Learn how you can be down.

Mental Health Monday #8: Aja Naomi King's Self-Doubt, Muppets with Autism, and Navigating Mental Breakdowns

Oh, hey. Welcome to Spring. In case you were thinking about starting the week off on a mediocre note, meet Sidney Keys III, an eleven-year-old avid reader who started a book club for Black boys to celebrate their love of reading and focus on Black literature. He called it Books N Bros, naturally. There's still time to get your life together. 


Aja Naomi King, who plays Michaela on ABC's How To Get Away With Murder, gave a powerful, memorable speech about self-doubt, strength, and survival at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards Gala. She preached a good sermon. Behold:

"B. Smith's husband, Dan Gasby, speaks about living with wife's Alzheimer's" by Jenny Drabble [Winston-Salem Journal]

"Smith, 67, began suffering from memory problems years before her diagnosis, her husband said. She once froze for several seconds while being interviewed on the “Today Show,” unprecedented for the experienced star, prompting a doctor’s visit.

Doctors gave Smith a prescription for anti-depressants; later tests revealed Smith had early onset Alzheimer’s."

"Black, 30, and Finally in Therapy" by Danielle Butler [Very Smart Brothas]

"It wasn’t until I had a late night discussion with a close friend where he tearfully revealed he’d seen a therapist and had been diagnosed with depression, that I entertained perhaps seeking professional help for my mental well being. Of course I didn’t think that I was as sick as my friend, when he asked if his diagnosis surprised me I responded in typical “Of course I knew, nigga I’m glad you caught up” Danielle fashion. “Oh yeah, of course not, I had always said you would benefit from therapy, with what you’ve been through? Of course a diagnosis of depression makes sense. I’m proud of you for finally taking care of yourself.”"

"With Joyful Photos, a 19-Year-Old Artist Confronts Media Bias Against Black Male Teens" by Antwaun Sargent [VICE]

"The revelation lead Loftin to create HOODED, a photo and video project that deconstructs stereotypes of black teenage boys. In the project's images, Four White Teens and Four Black Teens, Loftin displays against poppy backdrops two screen grabs of google images results, each displaying visually the staggering differences in search results. HOODED focuses primarily on the hoodie, an article of clothing which, when it's associated with the black male body, is tied to white racial fantasies of black males as "thugs" and "super predators," and assumptions that they are dangerous."

"Patton Oswalt Explains How Pop Culture Gets Grieving All Wrong" by Ari Shapiro [NPR]

"One thing that I've learned since what happened to me happened is: You don't know the kind of pain and loss other people may have gone through — even close friends and acquaintances. ... In really awful science fiction terms it is like putting on the sunglasses in They Live and then seeing the world for what it really is. Do you know what I mean? Obviously I knew there was loss and death and depression, but you can only sympathize so far until it directly happens to you."

Youtuber Kymara opened up about her mental breakdown, what caused it, and how she's recovered from that low moment.

"New Baltimore wellness center works to reduce stigma of mental illness" by Andrea K. McDaniels [Baltimore Sun]

"Simon Life and Wellness also offers an art therapy room, music therapy and yoga classes. Adult clients can take healthy-cooking classes and children learn to make YouTube videos. There is a game room where kids can play foosball and board games.

The different activities create opportunities to address mental illness in ways that go beyond just talking, Simon said."

"Self-Care + Entrepreneurship" [Crown of Courage]

"Cry Baby Cry: I used to shed buffalo sized tears from the insults, the stress, and the let downs that came with running my own organization. Not even going to lie, I tried to act like it didn’t phase me. I tricked myself into believing that I needed to be tough if I was going to make it in this dog-eat-dog world. I used to be ashamed to cry. It made me feel weak. My blessing came when I realized crying is not a weakness. It is a release. You can only hold so much negativity and at some point you just have to release it. So, cry your big heart out. I promise it is okay."

photo: AP

photo: AP

"A Muppet with autism to be welcomed soon on 'Sesame Street'" by Frazier Moore [Associated Press]

"Developing Julia and all the other components of this campaign has required years of consultation with organizations, experts and families within the autism community, according to Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact.

"In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," she says. "We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share.""

Our most recent mental health-centered episode, "You Good, Man?" (featuring Nickolas Gaines).

Are you a Black mental health professional? Do you do yoga, reiki, massage therapy, herbology, bootcamps, or crystal work? Alex is building a database of Black wellness professionals and practitioners. Be a pal and submit your info to be included in the directory.

Have a mental health-related article, video, event, or resource we should know about? Send it our way!

Mental Health Monday: mindfulness, soldiers with autism, and treating schizophrenia with weed

Buenos tardes. Happy Monday, winnerperson. We hope your belly is full and your elbows are ash-free on this fine day, and that you're resting easier knowing that Janet just gave birth to the most talented child the Jackson family has seen in decades. That alone should make your dreams at least 12% sweeter. Anyhow, whether you're chillaxing or pursuing luchini on President's Day, you can take at least a quick moment to breathe, so we've got some guided meditation videos down below. And: stories about the mental warfare that happens when you've got both anxiety and depression, what it's like to live with autism, and a new perspective on weed's usefulness in decreasing symptoms of schizophrenia.

Also, a friendly reminder that Alex is compiling a database of Black mental health professionals, fitness/reiki/massage/herbologist/bootcamp folks, and agencies and programs, so if you are or know a Black therapist or counselor, or know of a resource that would be helpful for someone in need of mental health care or support, please have a gander at and fill out this form to be included. Thank you kindly.


On her podcast, A Different Perspective, Dr. Amber Thornton's dedicated an episode to Black psychology, the special relationship between Black patients and Black psychologists, and why we need more Black folks as mental health professionals. She also spoke on how she went about becoming a psychologist.

"Empty and Anxious: Life with Anxiety" [NAMI]

"Life with anxiety is being afraid to talk to a person face to face. I don’t know what to say especially when it’s a new person. Should I just introduce myself like “Hey, my name is Desirae and I suffer from depression and anxiety”? No. Then I’ll probably run them off. But if I get past that part without saying all that mumbo jumbo then I freak out about what I should say next. Because you know you don’t want to seem rude and just walk off but you start to panic because you don’t feel comfortable, then these thoughts start rushing through your mind and you don’t know what to do. It’s like your fight or flight sense kicks in and your mind is telling you to run, run as fast as you can."

And so you can get your calm on, here is a five-minute mindfulness meditation video, "Mindfulness Bell." And a mindful breathing exercise.

"Depression may be our brain's way of telling us to stop and solve a problem" by Kevin Loria [Business Insider]

"But there's also a theory that instead of being purely a disorder, depression might be a specific behavioral strategy that we've evolved — a biological adaptation that serves a purpose. As Matthew Hutson explains in a Nautilus feature on the potential evolutionary roots of depression and suicidal behavior, that purpose might be to make us stop to understand and deal with an important problem."

"The Cannabis-Schizophrenia Relationship Is Not What You Think" by Lauren Maul [Merry Jane]

"So, what happens when someone with schizophrenia becomes intoxicated with actual cannabis? A 2006 study found that patients who self-medicated with cannabis reported fewer negative symptoms than those who did not. Less avolution (general lack of drive to perform activities or pursue meaningful goals) and fewer apathy symptoms were detected in patients with schizophrenia who used cannabis than in those patients who did not partake."

"Are you considering suicide? Here’s messages from people who’ve been there!" [Brett Francis]

" When My Day Starts With a Battle in My Head Between Anxiety and Depression" by Heather LaSalle [The Mighty]

"On a regular weekday morning, I start my day with a battle in my head. My depression tells me not to get out of bed at all because it’s not really worth the energy it takes to get out of bed. Then my anxiety chimes in and begins to argue. My depression often has a laid-back kind of voice, while my anxiety talks fast. Those of you who know me can probably tell when my anxiety is high because my outer voice begins to sound like the anxiety voice I hear inside my head. It rushes and is sometimes hard to understand." 

"Local high school students create suicide prevent PSA" by Christina Tetrault [Your Central Valley]

"The video explores the daily struggles teenagers face and encourages viewers to reach out when feeling pressure or having suicidal thoughts. The video was published on The Feather, the school's student-ran online newspaper.

"The title of our video is 'Hope: Let's Talk' and I really think that's what I wanted our message to be," said Fresno Christian High Senior Jarrod Markarian. "I just wanted to make sure that was a message that you're not alone in this big world," he said."

"My Journey With Autism" [NAMI]

"I then joined the Marine Corps Infantry, not only to serve my country, but to get people to respect me. I went through three tours and a good deal of abuse for my condition that I didn’t even know I had. I left with an honorable discharge and returned to the civilian world an emotionally and psychologically broken human being. I enrolled in college again. My peers, who I hoped would respect me more for my service, couldn’t understand how such a strange individual could make it through something like the Infantry and gave me even less respect."

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