self care

Mental Health Monday #33: Coping skills from Jaden Smith's 'Neo Yokio,' Black women & eating disorders, Indigenous queer mental health, etc.

Kaz from Jaden Smith's Netflix series  Neo Yokio  

Kaz from Jaden Smith's Netflix series Neo Yokio 


YouTuber JustLatasha had a great chat with the brothers from The Black Boy Joy Show about Masculinity, Mental Health, and the woes of being Black and wonderful in this hateful society.

If you're in or near St. Petersburg, Florida, Dr. Carlean East, Clinical Psychotherapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and professor of psychology is hosting a very necessary event intended to help church leaders and members with approaching mental health issues among those in the congregation, "I Need More Than Prayers" -Mental Health In The Church. For more info, go here.

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"Depression Steals Your Soul and Then It Takes Your Friends" by Patrick Malborough [VICE]

A depressive hibernation is not so much a purposeful exile, as a slow-paced locking of doors. When your mind feels groggy and your day is a looping cycle of inaction and despairing thoughts, it can be hard to work up the strength to go to a friend's gig, grab a coffee, or reply to a text. In my own experience, the disease does so much to convince you of your awfulness, that you start viewing your absence from friends and events as a deformed favor.

"4 Self-Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible" by Miriam Zoila Pérez [Colorlines]

The onslaught of news about violence against people of color seems to be endless these days. In the midst of all of this we remember the words of writer and activist Audre Lorde, who famously said that self-care is both an act of self-preservation and political warfare.

"4 Surprising Mental Health Hacks You Can Learn from Netflix’s ‘Neo Yokio’" by Sophie Atkinson [High Snobiety]

While Kaz is as devoted to the internet as you’d expect for a character voiced by wunderkind Jaden Smith, his character’s obsessiveness about it all suggests how harmful tech can be when we’re in a fragile place. So, without further ado, here are the mental health hacks to learn from Neo Yokio.

BEAM's Healing & Accountability Wheel

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Yolo Akili's BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Wellness Collective) has created a guide for "how to build loving relationships." Download this and other resources here.

"What Black Women Need to Know About Eating Disorders" by Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. [Psychology Today]

Although Armstrong’s experience is consistent with research in that binge-eating or emotional overeating is often used as a way to cope with difficult emotions triggered by past trauma, like childhood mistreatment, the medical field rarely assumes that eating disorders are a problem for black women. 

"Black Rainbow: Mental health and the Indigenous queer community" by Leigh Hill [Out in Perth]

“Black Rainbow operates as a platform to highlight and positively reinforce to the Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Community who identify as LGBTI, that is it OK to be who they are and that they do have a place in the broader community. Where we stemmed from really was that there was a lack of visibility in the LGBTI space and in general for the Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Community Queer population.”

Our latest episode, "KweliTV and Chill (feat. Deshuna Spencer from Kweli TV)"

If you have a mental health resource, event, or piece of content we should know about, step into our office. You da bess.

Mental Health Monday #10: Perks of Self-Examination, Emotional Benefits of Baking, Life with Bipolar Disorder, etc.

And hello. Welcome to another edition of Mental Health Monday. There's much to be jolly about. As April unfolds and springtime finally decides to evict ol hateful-ass winter from the premises, coconut oil and shea butter rained from the sky on today as Barack and Michelle Obama's post-presidential glow up continues. Hoards of folks rejoiced at the sight of Lady Michelle Obama's natural hurr, further demonstrating the benefits their newfound freedom and peace of mind, along with Barack's new well-rested zaddy-with-popping-tax-returns steelo. And Auntie Maxine shows no sign of giving the Tangerine Terrorist a break. Joy.


"Black Mental Health: Jared shares his story on being diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder"  [Bianca Hughes

"How These Psychologists Are Prioritizing Mental Health Care For Black America" by Zahara Hill [Huffington Post

"In December, they began uploading videos to YouTube as part of a series titled “Our Mental Health Minute.” The series, targeted toward black audiences, serves as a quick and relatable mental health resource, particularly for those seeking some form of consultation but hindered by the stigmatization of mental health care. 

Anderson said the pair set out with three goals: to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care in the black community, heighten mental health literacy and provide access to mental health resources."

"Black Student-Athlete Summit raises awareness about mental health" by Maya A. Jones [The Undefeated

""A common point all panelists stressed was urging coaches to be more involved in the personal lives of their athletes. Whether it’s prescription drug use or anxiety attacks, panelists believe coaches and training staffs should be more equipped and proactive when looking for signs of mental distress.

“When you have coaches who also understand the importance of a player’s mental and emotional health, that helps because when the students see the coaches saying, ‘OK, you need to get some extra assistance,’ they’re more likely to want to do it,” Brackette said. “There’s a need to raise awareness and talk about mental health the same way we do physical health.”"

"How These Black Millennial Women Are Dealing With Depression" by Ezinne Mgbeahuruike [BET]

"What caused you to realize you were depressed?
I started baking a lot. My roommates would yell at me because we had more bowls in the house and it then that I realized I might have been depressed. I used baking as a coping mechanism.

What was your depression like?
My depression was deep and dark. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Every step literally felt like it was too heavy. I was always looking down when I walked, my body was constantly slouched, my energy was completely off. I lost my appetite, I didn’t feel like working out, I truly felt miserable."

"25 Cheat Sheets For Taking Care Of Yourself Like A Damn Adult" by Anna Borges [Buzzfeed]

"How Self-Examination And Self-Awareness Can Change Your Year" by Arielle Gray [Blavity]

"Last year asked a lot of questions.

The beginning of 2016 had me entrapped in a maelstrom of depression, identity crises & loneliness. I was almost 25 years old with absolutely no clue what I was doing with my life nor did I have any idea of what I wanted to do with it. Fresh out of a breakup, I was trying to form this newborn identity without the presence of my ex while reconciling with the harsh truth that I simply did not possess the drive or motivation to do things for myself."

"What Bipolar Disorder Really Feels Like" by Sarah Klein [Huffington Post]

"Bipolar disorder is vastly different from the normal ups and downs of everyday life, but many have co-opted the term to refer to any old change in thoughts or feelings. The mood swings in someone with bipolar disorder, sometimes also called manic depression, can damage relationships and hurt job performance. It has been estimated that anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.

Artist Ellen Forney detailed her diagnosis with bipolar disorder in the graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Forney previously shared her story with us, specifically detailing how her bipolar disorder has affected her creative work."

"Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People" by Julie R. Thomson [Huffington Post]

"Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression,” associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, Donna Pincus, told HuffPost. “There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”

Stress is related to a host of mental and physical problems, and finding ways to cope with that stress is important for leading a healthy life."

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 #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!

The Necessity of Self Care Amidst Trauma: Part 1/3

Over the last two years, I decided to redirect my focus and energy. And in doing so, it has recalibrated and transformed me. My role isn't to change anyone. I can use my influence to educate, but people are left with the decision in what they believe. Many times with phobias and "isms" people are strongly committed to what they believe based off of their life experiences and presuppositions.

If you are constantly getting upset with family, coworkers, or friends via social media and/or in real life you have to remember that they think and speak that way because they don't care, don't have to make certain considerations, or are embedded with privilege that they haven't actualized or worked through. People have agency over their own lives to think, speak, behave, and feel what they want. And, that, has nothing to do with you. Treating people with dignity and affirming their inherent value is baseline. Basic. If you have people in your life who don't do that or need constant reminders, you need to examine your circle.

I'm done arguing. I put down my sword and shield. I refuse to argue why people shouldn't be oppressed. I refuse to argue with people who are committed to their viewpoint. I still speak truth as I see it in my circle of influence. I still call out injustice when someone around me is treated unfairly. But arguments with the intention to prove rightness, educate, or change perspectives isn't my fight.

Be a good steward of your time, emotional capacity, what influences your thinking, commands your spirit, and your energy. My energy is best used loving myself, cherishing my family, affirming my friends, and being love and light in this world. YOU are the light of the world. If you spend it wrestling with people to get YOUR viewpoint not only do you diminish your light, but you diminish your connection to pure joy, peace, and happiness. Your spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health are most important. If you spend all your time fighting "they" have won. It's not worth it.

So for review, until this gets in your spirit:

  • Self-care is deciding not to engage in conversations in which you have to prove the humanity of someone who shares your identity or experience. If they don't see the humanity in the person you're arguing about over social media, they don't see yours, and won't see it, God forbid something happens to you.
  • It's a baseline that folks regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, ethnicity, religion, or ability level are treated as human beings, all worthy of equality, respect, and love.
  • Stop arguing with fools. It's a waste of your time, energy, and resources.
  • Stop arguing with fools. Protect your spaces- physical, emotional, and spiritual.
  • Stop arguing with fools. If they're more focused on proving their "rightness" than focused on listening to you, your experience, and your pain, they obviously don't value you, your relationship, or the friendship that comes with it.
  • Stop arguing with fools. Press delete. Redirect your energy into people and things that bring you joy, make you whole, and increase your love.

Take care of yourself. Make a holistic plan to ensure you sustain yourself. That includes your body, mind, soul, and spirit. On Sunday I'll be talking about holistic self-care and giving you some ideas on how to make a personal self-care plan.

Let your motivation onward be to "do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Wisdom is knowing what battles not to fight because peace is more important than winning the battle.

Originally published at

Nickolas Gaines wants our people-us to heal. And he wants to make sure that it's glorious. Nickolas is a Mental Health Practitioner. He is the Suicide Prevention Program Director for the Department of Defense, serving over 11,000 Soldiers across 26 states, their family members, and Department of the Army Civilians. He oversees education/training, program implementation, policy development, and counseling. He also works for PREP Inc. as an Educator who teaches, facilitates workshops, and develops curriculum on family resiliency, relational health, masculinity, and fatherhood. When he's not working he's loving his family, eating good food, listening to Beyonce, maintaining his edges, and being mad that his spin class has all the wrong music. Nickolas judges you by how soft the cookies are in your banana pudding and your ability to clap on 2 and 4. More Nick: Web | Twitter | Instagram