Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Vernetta R. Freeney

The 2017 Be The Change Interview Series

Week 2 – Featuring: Vernetta R. Freeney, Podcaster, Instructor, and Organizer

Here’s the direct link to the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/cotZK6rjZbM

About

Vernetta R. Freeney is the Creator/Producer of the podcast, ‘A Toast To Truths.’ She teaches stressed individuals how to claim their peace using journaling as a tool. She was one of the Top 100 Young Professionals in Houston 2015 and featured on cnbc.com and EOFire podcast.

When she’s not teaching you how to prevent stress, she’s reading a really good book, binge watching Netflix or cheering on her beloved Dallas Mavericks. Vernetta is a regular guest on blogs, podcasts and other media. She speaks at conferences, workshops, trainings and more across the country with her je ne sais quoi introverted speaking style.

If all this isn’t enough, Vernetta is an ESL Instructor for 10 years and founding Organizer of the Houston African American Bloggers Association.

How You Can Help

Support the Houston African-American Bloggers Association by working with the association’s influencers to leverage your brand message. http://houstonafricanamericanbloggers.com/

Resources mentioned

The Truth Confidant™ Journal 

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Sarah Fader

The 2017 Be The Change Interview Series

Week 1 – Featuring: Sarah Fader, Mental Health Columnist, Speaker, and Viral Hashtag Creator

Here’s the direct link to the audio recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/MqNKYB1wVXw

About

stigma fighters sarah faderSarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.

Connect with her on Twitter or on her personal website at http://www.sarahfader.com/

How You Can Help

Support Stigma Fighters at stigmafighters.com where they publish essays from people living with mental illness.

Resources mentioned

DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders )

#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike 

NAMI 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

What’s the deal with Minority Mental Health Awareness Month ?

To celebrate Minority Mental Health Awareness Month while cultivating my commitment to mental wellness and self-love on this blog, I invited our resident mental health expert back for an interview. Dr. Angela Clack decided to swing by to help us understand what this month is all about and offer up some tips for self-care, mental wellness advocacy and more!

You can listen to the recording by clicking here

About Dr. Angela Clack

Angela Clack PsyD LPC Licensed Psychotherapist practicing in New Jersey. She earned her doctorate in 2002 with a degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University, Washington, D.C. She has taught, supervised and provided training in specific areas related to children, youth and their families. Practicing in the field of mental health for over 15 years, Dr. Clack has developed a specialty in working with youth who have emotional and behavioral disturbances, learning difficulties, and youth and adults who present with trauma history and trauma related behaviors. She has worked extensively with youth in out of home placements, including residential treatment settings, secure juvenile facilities, and within the foster care system.

Dr. Clack has trained direct care counselors, social workers, and juvenile detention workers on topics such as suicide awareness and prevention, managing challenging youth with mental illness, sexuality and the sexualized child, social skills and effective communication.

Dr. Clack’s private practice treats adults and youth suffering from depression, anxiety, grief/loss, as well as general emotional distress and relationship/interpersonal problems.

Her approach to providing clinical care consists of teaching clients to recognize maladaptive patterns in their thinking and behaviors that have resulted in inefficient emotional and behavioral functioning. Through her work with her clients she seeks to empower individuals to live life to their fullest potential .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources mentioned in our interview

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month campaign by NAMI

Bebe Moore Campbell

• Learn more and Join us for our Sister Support Meetup in South Jersey for self-care activities and community support.

• Reach out to Dr. Clack at her private practice Clack Associates.

• Tune in to Dr. Clack’s Facebook Live chats on Wednesday nights. “The Virtual Coach with Dr. Angela” You can find her on Facebook using the hashtag #mentalhealthmedic

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Are Mental Health Support Groups Helpful?

hands of support

With May being Mental Health Month, I wanted to present some back-to-basic resources for you if you’re just starting your mental health journey or if you’re someone interested in supporting a mental health cause or movement. I welcome your eyes to read, comments, and questions, whether for yourself, or a loved one : )

When I first started seeking ways to “be a better Lynn”, I turned to self-help.  I wasn’t really ready for much else, because I didn’t think any further than simply wanting to be happier or rather, less miserable. Free or low-cost resources are obviously some of the most accessible ways to begin a healing journey, (even if you don’t know that’s the kind of journey you’re on). Some of those resources are blogs about mental health and personal development, YouTube videos, books, free mental health educational lectures or workshops, and support groups.  Because support groups are both educational and also involve getting out of your head and taking action, I wanted to give you the scoop on those 1st.

So, what are support groups?

My personal interpretation of support groups is that they are a structured way of holding space for one another.

However, so we’re all on the same page, according to WebMD, (and pretty much most sites you Google for a definition) “Support groups are organizations of people who share a common disorder, like depression or anxiety, and who meet together to discuss their experiences, share ideas, and provide emotional support for one another.”

There are least 2 types of support groups: Peer support/self-help, and groups led by mental health professionals like therapists. And although they are plentiful, there is not a universal appeal of self-help groups; as few as 17% of people invited to attend a self-help group will do so.

I understand that both fear of stigma and lack of awareness can keep others at bay. So, I am not going to tell you that all the cool kids do it and so should you.

However, I’m making it no secret that I’m all for support groups. I joined my 1st support group after my therapist suggested it. That group was professionally facilitated and I didn’t need much convincing to go. At that time in my life I was so down that I was fully open to anything that would help me get my life back, but truth be told, better than get my old life back, I started the path towards mental health recovery and spiritual healing.

So, to get perspective, I reached out to my social network about their views on support groups whether good, bad, or downright ugly. I wanted to know if they thought these groups were helpful or not.

I learned that people don’t go to support groups because they feel that they will just “get over it” because “such is life”. Some people don’t see anything wrong with their habits (even if other people do), and some people feel they don’t have the time.

For those who do get involved with support groups, they do so for various reasons. There are some who like me, were sick and tired of being sick and tired, some were convinced to attend support groups due to spouses giving them ultimatums, some because church clergy recommended it, (and even though it took them a lot on convincing they eventually went through with it) and some were required by law.  Those who felt rather forced to join groups confessed that they began to see positive changes in their lives after being in them for a time, or at the very least they felt better knowing that they weren’t alone.

So let’s look at the pros and cons…

Benefits of support groups include:

1) Well for one, they are an evidenced-based method for improved mental health.  Research has shown that support groups provide many benefits to its members/participants.

2) One of the biggest issues when struggling with a mental health disorder or even simply “the blehs” is that you tend to want to isolate because you think “the world just won’t understand”.  Support groups emphasize that you are not alone. Attending them keeps you from hiding away from life and you learn that “it’s not just you”, when you thought it was the whole time.

3) Many groups are anonymous, you don’t even have to give your contact information if you don’t want. This gives you the opportunity and freedom to express yourself, and to finally have a voice.

4) By listening to others share their lived experience you in turn learn to develop effective coping skills. You can then later put those newly learned coping skills into practice for your own life circumstances.

5) When you practice healthy behaviors, (like coping techniques) you build up your self-esteem. Building up your self-esteem enhances your sense of self-worth. Self-worth opens the door to making even healthier choices which increases your mental wellness.

6) Earlier I mentioned holding space, one way to hold space is by allowing someone to take off their social mask and be herself/himself so that they can receive empathetic listening and compassion – instead of shame.

7) This is a controversial one: You can learn to manage mental health disorders like anxiety and depression without medication. I say controversial because there are professionals and advocates who believe that medications are either the best, or only true solution for managing ones illness. I don’t agree that meds are the only effective solution for managing mental health disorders as someone who is pro-natural healing/alternative methods and who has never taken medications for mental health issues. However, I cannot emphasize enough that if you are prescribed medication for mental disorders, then you will not want to just stop taking your pills because you’ve suddenly started going to a support group. If wanting to learn how to manage a mental health diagnosis and living life beyond the meds is on your agenda it is very, very important to do so with the aid and advisement of your medical professional team.

The flip-side of support groups:

There is no perfect group. Support groups are made up of imperfect people. So, just like shopping for a doctor, or therapist you have to choose carefully where you want to spend your time and not get discouraged on the 1st try. Most 12-step groups ask people to attend a few meetings before they make a decision to join. I think that’s a good way to approach any kind of support group.

Just know, that you may walk into a group setting and feel immediately that it just isn’t right for you.  It could be resistance, but it could also be the fact that it’s supposed to be a place of practicing sobriety and everyone in the group goes out to have drinks afterwards. It could be a group that’s supposed to have no set leader and everyone is to be equals, but there’s a “grouptator” acting like they own the room and everyone in it.  There’s also a possibility that a group you really like may one day get a personality that rubs other group members the wrong way and as a result, the people who made the group worthwhile for you choose to walk away and seek their support elsewhere, or you can simply outgrow the group.

Ultimately, like most things in life, support groups are helpful depending on what you are willing to invest in them to make them useful for you. As the saying goes, “Take what you need and leave the rest.” If you’re willing to go to a support group, you have to be willing to seek out a group of people that you will want to heal together with. You also have to be willing to do the work (your own work) of recovery and healing.

Find a support group for yourself or a loved one

The great thing about seeking out support groups is you get to choose what makes you comfortable and what fits your needs at that particular time in life. You get to make healthy decisions for yourself by choosing what’s right for you, and that’s empowering in and of itself.

You can seek out support groups in your community and educate yourself about your symptoms and diagnosis. Social support and knowledge can be valuable tools for coping.

Psychcentral is a great place to find a listing of all kinds of support groups for various reasons. Check it out!

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Mental Health Education For Family Members and Friends of Loved Ones with Mental Illness

lifelonglearning

Yesterday I learned that Amy Bleuel, the Founder of Project Semicolon, a global nonprofit founded in 2013 that is dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury had passed away at the young age of 31. I was deeply saddened by this news. For one, I knew the impact she had made via Project Semicolon, and the thousands of lives she had touched through a cause that started out as a way to honor her late father who had died by suicide years earlier. But also, I felt a bit numb because Amy and I had spoken one-on-one on several occasions. Besides being a speaker for the Love Yourself Love Your Business virtual conference, we had very vulnerable conversations with each other about mental health and the things going on in our work lives that were stressing us out and frustrating us. You don’t get to have that kind of intimacy often in this entrepreneurial dog eat dog world, so I felt awful that I didn’t even realize I no longer saw her posts which used to come very frequently through my Facebook newsfeed. But I think she would be proud to know that I’ve gotten a whole heck of a lot better with my coping skills. #Counseling #GetYouSome

Feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, heart brokenness, worry, fear, and angst because it hits a little too close to home are all feelings that I learned were very normal, and I have to thank my most recent mental health education for that. One major reason why it’s been extremely hard for me to keep up with everyone, (besides the fact that it’s just hard to do that with thousands of social media connections) is that my own family had crisis. My immediate family and most closest friends know more details about my own history with years of struggling with depression and anxiety, which was chronic and mild. So, when a family member has a major episode of psychosis we were unfortunately ill prepared. My ideas of calm meditation, eating healthy, yoga, and mindfulness kinda went out the window because telling someone who wields a sword and declares that they will protect the people of earth as a chosen warrior of God, to add some zen to their life doesn’t really cut it…at least not at that time.

And so determined to understand psychosis, which was new to me on a personal level, be a better knowledge base for my family and anyone else who came my way wondering how the heck do you deal with the sudden loss of a loved one either by physical death, or death of a personality you had grown to love, I took up the Mental Health First Aid training which is free and accessible, so I can be more aware and appropriately responsive.

I also enrolled in the NAMI Family-to-Family classes with my mother. NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness. It is a designated evidenced-based program. Research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to an individual living with a mental health condition.

I joined NAMI back in 2015 and even went to the annual conference in my state. I had been on the fence about being involved this year because I had gotten lost in their system via no responses to my correspondence and attempts to get more involved, which isn’t unusual for nonprofits at all. This is why I’ve a love/hate/grudgingly respect and appreciate relationship with large nonprofits and prefer to partner with smaller grassroots organizations. But I am very glad that NAMI has this program and I highly recommend checking it out even if you yourself have a mental health issue.

As someone who has been in mental health recovery for about 8 years it was completely new to hear from family members who associated themselves as “not mentally ill” and yet had the heart and determination to empathize and “come out” as die hard advocates.  I say new because I am used to hearing from people with lived experience rather than the outside looking in when they aren’t paid to be looking from the outside in. It gave me perspective, to say the least. I think perspective in and of itself can save a life.

Dr. Kelly Brogan (who I find quite controversial and wonderfully fascinating) wrote that “people require basic tools, simple truths, and community.” I agree with that. And I know that education is one of those basic tools.

The truth is, there is stigma within the mental health community itself.  Psychologists and Psychiatrists go at it, and so do people who have “severe” mental illness vs. those who have “high functioning” mental health disorders. I know for a fact that Amy had people questioning a lot of what she was doing, some of her ideas and thought leadership, and some of those people also had mental health issues.  This is why I believe that education isn’t just for the professionals who treat mental health disorders, but for the people who call themselves advocates and allies as well.

I’m going to end with this, if you felt triggered by the death of Amy do not feel ashamed, or guilty because you feel you are making it about you and not them…those feelings are normal and you are not alone. Reach out. The legacy continues as we continue to share our stories, as we continue to increase awareness and fight injustice and medical practices that do more harm than good. Let’s continue to share our hopes, our dreams for a society that has no stigma and a world that believes in mental wellness for all.

If you or a loved one need support right now, you can reach National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling: 1-800-273-8255. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.