Let's Get Uncomfortable: Mental Health Makeover Event

Let's Get Uncomfortable: Mental Health Makeover Event

When you visualize your goals, it makes them easier to obtain. A year ago when I launched my movement, #BlackMHM Black Mental Health Makeover, I envisioned eventually moving the dialogue from online to in person. Blog posts and YouTube videos were a great way to get people talking, but I wanted to connect in person. I thrive on human interaction. Now here I type, almost a year later- I am 31 days away from the mental health event I envisioned. Let me tell you, it feels good as hell!

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5 Quotes for Growth from #NABJNAHJ16 Convention #InspiredMobility

When I'm confused and can't see what is next on my path, I always ask God to send me clarity and confirmation. It can be as simple as seeing an inspirational quote on Instagram that speaks to my situation or finding $40 on a busy NYC street (yes, this has really happened to me). Regardless of the form in which God decides to send His message, I always listen and express my gratitude for the plan He has for my life. A couple of months ago, I was discouraged about the future of Don't Die Afraid but after becoming an ambassador for AT&T's #InspiredMobility I realized the importance of my message. My message truly is a catalyst for change and I need to own it!

"My message truly is a catalyst for change and I need to own it! #DontDieAfraid"

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During the NABJ & NAHJ Convention (#NABJNAHJ16) God sent me clarity and confirmation through the workshops, especially during the #InspiredMobility chat with Alfred Edmond Jr. and Rev. Run. Every time I interacted with someone, it felt like God was speaking right through them. It was actually pretty bizarre how accurate the messaging and timing was. Below are 5 quotes that spoke to my soul during #NABJNAHJ16 that can be helpful if you are experiencing a stage of uncertainty or growth.

1. "When you are copying someone else you are giving God the wrong answer- he asked you a different question! Be authentic." -Rev. Run

Moment of Clarity: Frequently we get caught up in looking at the blessings others are receiving, so we want to do exactly what they are doing in order to gain success. Then we have the nerve to get frustrated when we don't see results. We fail to realize that each of us are walking on tailor-made path. We would see success if we listen to the plans God has for us instead of trying to covet the blessings of those around us.

I constantly struggle with this so hearing this word from Rev. Run snapped me into grind mode. I have to keep working hard for what God has in store for me.

2. "Don't ask God for it if you don't think he's going to give you the answer." -Rev. Run

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"Don't ask God for it if you don't think he's going to give you the answer @RevRunWisdom"

Moment of Confirmation: Asking God to show up in your life but not trusting that He will show out, is a slap in His face. Commit to do your best work, write down your intentions of what you want God to do in your life, and then leave the rest to Him.

I've been dealing with some turmoil the past month and I went to the Lord in tears, and He asked me, "Do you not believe that I am, who I say I am?" So I had to bounce back to reality and respond, "Lord, You are who You say You are." That sentence brought a sense of calmness over me because I had no choice but to trust Him.

Clearly, Rev. Run was dropping gems, click to read more of his inspirational quotes.

3. "AT&T found 8-in-10 (80%) people say mobile technology facilitates inspiration." -AT&T #InspiredMobility Report

Moment of Confirmation: If you use your social media platform to inspire others- KEEP INSPIRING! Even if you don't feel like you get enough likes, comments, followers, retweets, or shares, know that you are still contributing to the positive power of technology. It's astonishing that AT&T's report discovered 80% of people are receiving inspiration from their mobile devices! Technology and social media are often classified as making us more dependent, weakening our interpersonal skills, and creating jealousy because it only reveals highlight reels; but this study reveals that there is inspirational content that is helping readers.

This report confirmed that I have to keep building my Resilient Family and the Don't Die Afraid empire because people need a haven they can depend on that inspires them to realize their circumstances don't hinder their future.

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4. "It could have been me." -Jarrett Hill

Moment of Clarity: In the midst of our trials, we frequently forget about the sunshine we’ve experienced because all we can see in front of us is stormy clouds. Jarrett Hill received the spotlight for revealing that Melania Trump stole a whole paragraph from First Lady Michelle Obama's 2008 speech. Before the accolades, Jarrett was dealing with unemployment and the uncertainty of knowing the trajectory of his future. When seeing the struggles of others around him, Jarrett reminded himself, "It could have been me."

That one simple realization helped him see his blessings in spite of the hard times. Currently, I'm a full time content creator, not by choice- but instead by necessity, as I look for a job. I'm in the same position Jarrett was months ago. Do I feel discouraged every once in a while? Yeah, but testimonies like his help me remain resilient.

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5. "20% of health is in the doctors office, 80% is everywhere else. A culture of health is more than your interactions in the health care system. #CloseHealthGaps" -Dr. Dwayne Proctor

Moment of Confirmation:We get caught up in the misconception that health is something static, solely existing in our doctor's hands. When the truth is: racism, residential segregation, education policy,income distribution, urban planning, and tons of other social determinants have the greatest impact on our health. This is why it is imperative to advocate for quality in all these aspects of our lives.

I expected #NABJNAHJ16 to provide knowledge only about journalism and new media. When I saw the abundance of sessions on health, I was ecstatic and reassured I will soon find a way to combine my Broadcast Journalism B.A. and my Master of Public Health.

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I'm grateful for this opportunity and the relationships I formed with the other AT&T influencers *pictured above* who poured into my life. This experience at #NABJNAHJ16 with AT&T's Inspired Mobility refueled me to continue to do do what I love, by inspiring my Resilient Family.

Now Tell Me What's On Your Mind: How do you use technology to find inspiration? You can join in the conversation by sharing an inspirational thought, photo, meme or video and using the hashtag #InspiredMobility.

Disclosure: Thank you to AT&T for sponsoring this post. You my Resilient Family know that all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that value my unique voice!

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#BlackMHM: Inspiration from #HillDay15

Happy 1 Month Anniversary #BlackMHM ! I love celebrations, so of course I'm going to honor the one month creation of my Black Mental Health Makeover social media campaign.

Every other week on Don't Die Afraid, will be dedicated to a topic around mental health.

Did you think I was joking when I said #BlackMHM is going viral? I hope you didn't, because I was serious.

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The first couple of posts/videos will give you a foundation about why mental health is important to me. My passion for mental health has always existed but #HillDay15 reignited my fire. I am pursuing my Masters in Public Health, which is a degree that allows me to work in a plethora of career fields. After attending #HillDay15, hosted by The National Council for Behavioral Health I became seriously interested in careers around mental health. The event was dynamic, I learned about policy, various organizations in the field, took a blurry selfie with Dr. Oz, shared my experiences on camera for a PSA, and met some amazing people.

The room was full of professionals who dedicate their lives to advocacy, providing service, and breaking the stigma. Then there was me- I found out about the event through Twitter and didn't have class that day so I signed up to attend. Before arriving, I didn't know what to expect. I thought it was open to the public but once I was there, I felt a little under-qualified.  That feeling quickly dissolved after hearing how impressed people were after I told them that I attended out of pure passion for behavioral health. Although we all care about the topic, they were attending based on this opportunity being "a part of their job", whereas I attended because it was "a part of my heart".

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After an assessment of the room, I no longer felt out-of-place. I belonged there. Others like myself belonged there too those who are not in the field but have a genuine passion, millennials, and black people. This realization gave birth to #BlackMHM, Black Mental Health Makeover.

Through the social media campaign, over 20 people have posted photos about mental health and started the conversation on their social media with friends. I have been able to reach those individuals who should have been in the room with me for #HillDay15. It is eye-opening and refreshing because I never imagined to receive all this support. A lot of the people who joined the campaign, don't frequently discuss mental health on their outlets so I had no clue that they were interested. Seeing my idea become a catalyst for in-depth conversations about these issues warms my heart. I HOPE to host an event in July 2016 for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, *fingers double crossed, speaks it into existence*.

Thank you to The National Council for Behavioral Health and all of the partners (DBSA, The Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, NAMI, and Sunovion) for adding fuel to my fire for mental health and to everyone who has joined my movement. It's not too late to participate; all you have to do is post a black and white photo on social media with a caption about mental health to spark a conversation with your followers. Then include the #BlackMHM and tag me @DontDieAfraid.

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You do not have to be black to support my movement. It is titled, "Black Mental Health Makeover" because that is the community I identify with, so I know the deeply rooted issues we have with mental health stigma. My amazing Italian high school friend, Amanda participated to show her support and her caption spoke about why she feels mental health stigma should be broken.

Now Tell Me What’s On Your Mind: Have you ever initially felt out-of-place at an event but in the end, you realized it was exactly where you needed to be? Comment below to let me know; I would love to hear what you have to say.

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Dove's #LoveYourCurls Emojis

Dove's #LoveYourCurls Emojis

Dove just launched their #LoveYourCurls emojis. They come in all shades and for the first time us curly girls are represented. This campaign means so much to me because it promotes self-love. It helps us realize we don't have to alter how God naturally made us, we are beautiful the way we are.

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#BlackMHM : Interview on WRHU 88.7FM

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Success is overcoming the doubtful voices in your head that try to stop you. Two weeks ago when I started the Black Mental Health Makeover #BlackMHM social media campaign, I overcame some dark thoughts that told me I would fail at making an impact. Now, here I type today with press coverage and an interview on a radio station that can be heard all around the world.

I've been involved with this radio station for a while. Almost three years ago, I was a business reporter for "Newsline" and a DJ/host for "Off the Charts" and "The Jazz Cafe." Yesterday, instead of being behind the mixing board, I was the guest for an interview on "Hofstra's Morning Wake-Up Call." It was such a humbling experience to be interviewed by Shannon Nia Alomar, a young lady that I have watched grow into a powerhouse. Thank you again Shannon for acknowledging how important mental health is and allowing me this dynamic platform to share my testimony on.

#BlackMHM : Black Mental Health Makeover

When you have a sprained ankle -- you rest it, ice it, use compression, and elevate it. When you have back pain- you apply ice and heat, exercise, and adjust the way you sleep.

When you have allergies- you pop a Zyrtec, Clarinex, Allegra, Alavert, Claritin or some natural remedy you found on Google.

When you have a mental health issue- you act like it doesn't exist because you are too ashamed.

Does that bother you? It bothers me.

I have been contemplating ways to introduce posts about mental health on my blog but I never had a full plan ready to execute. Once I found out about the foolishness Meek Mill said about Wale, I knew I couldn't wait any longer. Celebrity gossip and the happenings of their lives are never topics that I stay abreast on, but Black Twitter filled me in about the Meek Mill vs. Wale fiasco.

Let me fill you in: During a conversation on The Breakfast Club, Wale mentioned mental health issues. Wale has shared in previous interviews about his battle with depression, substance abuse, and not being content with his level of success. So it was very clear that he wasn't joking, these sentiments are also expressed on, The Album About Nothing.

Then he was asked to make some statements about the Meek Mill vs. Drake, which Meek Mill got offended by. Instead of handling his anger like a grown man, Meek decided to post a photo on Instagram and included the following sentence in his caption: "We don't wanna hear you nomore Fam! Go jump off a roof like you been tryna do chump!"

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After reading Meek Mill's Instagram post and the reactions on Twitter, I knew this was my opportunity to insert my 22 cents about mental health. Many folks on Twitter were angry about Meek's comments but their responses circled around, "If Wale commits suicide then Meek should feel horrible." This type of approach actually makes light of the situation and makes it seem as though, suicide and mental health issues are appropriate joke topics as long as the person you are talking about doesn't take the joke seriously. That is the farthest thing from the truth. It takes a lot of fearlessness to share about battling with mental health, so to take advantage of someone in that powerful moment is disturbing.

In communities of color, we frequently succumb to the stigma surrounding mental health. I want to start a movement that combats that. My movement is #BlackMHM for Black Mental Health Makeover. I need your help to spread the word!

JOIN THE MOVEMENT:

  1. Join my e-mail list, I'll be sending out research about mental health and ways you can get involved in breaking the stigma.
  2. Post a black and white photo with a caption that raises awareness about mental health. Don't know what to write? Share why mental health matters to you, why other people should care, or suggest a way to break the stigma. Add the hashtag ‪#‎BlackMHM‬ and tag me @DontDieAfraid
  3. On YouTube please subscribe, comment, like, and share my videos so this movement can grow. I have a ton of links in the description box of the video that are resources and some of my favorite bloggers who bring awareness to mental health.

Update on the #BlackMHM Movement:

1. I Was The Only Black Person In The Room Discussing Mental Health

2. #BlackMHM the Live Event

Now It's Your Turn: Why do you think people are afraid to get help for mental health? What suggestions do you have to break the stigma? Comment below to let me know; I would love to hear what you have to say.