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Guest Contributor:

Dr. LaNail R. Plummer

Faculty, Johns Hopkins University

Co-founder & Owner EMC2 Mental Health Counseling and

Educational Consulting

African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental health illness. However, the widespread cultural stigma of mental illness prevents us from seeking treatment. Research suggests that within their social circles, depression or anxiety are dismissed as “crazy”. African American men are especially resistant to being labeled with a mental health diagnosis.

Unfortunately, by neglecting their mental health needs, they become more vulnerable to drug and/or alcohol abuse, homelessness, incarceration, homicide, and suicide. As such, Black women end up baring the sole responsibility of raising and supporting their families leaving them to struggle in silence if also afflicted by mental illness. When mental health illness goes untreated in our communities, the domino effect extends all the way down to our children. It has been documented that over 25% of African American youth who are exposed to violence are at a high risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Pay attention to your emotions

Automatic” emotions may perpetuate behavioral patterns that adversely affect your mental health. Oftentimes, an individual believes he/she is experiencing anger; however, with a deeper and insightful dive into emotional banks, one can explore, identify, and acknowledge the root emotion. Once the clear emotion is identified, a clearer course of action and behavioral shift can occur. In short: Ask yourself, what is under the anger.

Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?

Ruminating over what may, could, or should happen can exacerbate anxiety. Alternatively, according to Dr. Clark, when you think ahead and see yourself make it through the worst-case scenario, “it helps elucidate thoughts that are reasonable, probable, or sometimes even rational” (Miller, 2017). In short: if you find yourself thinking about the worse case scenario, be fair and consider the best-case scenario too.

Engage in mindful breathing

When is the last time you thought about breathing? It is not a common practice because breathing is automatic; however, mindful deep breathing activates pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain while simultaneously promoting feelings of well-being. When the body is relaxed and the mind is at ease, it is easier to gain insight and clarity for all situations and solutions, at hand.

Move your body, body!

Regular exercise helps the body release brain chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin which help reduce stress and increase happiness. In addition, regular physical activity improves mental health by alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. During the winter months, physical activity is especially important because it can boost your mood. The Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week. Exercise can include: cardio machines, running, dancing, gardening, body-based strength-based routines, walking with friends, and sex with someone special.

Limit social media

Social media was designed to keep us connected to our “friends”. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter allow us to stay updated on the news, gain new information about trending topics, and follow our favorite celebrities. However, research suggests that increased social media time correlates to perceptions and feelings of social isolation. It makes sense: the more time one spends online, the more time he/she is not engaged in traditional social interactions. Additionally, social media can aid in the pressure to compare yourself to others thus creating the urge to curate a perfect, enviable, montage of your own life (to share with others). Lastly, the drive for “likes” and decline of them, can align with feelings of inadequacy, anxious emotions, and a lack of satisfaction. Obsessive use of social media can cause anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impulsive disorder, and/or more. In short: unplug and try to embrace and enjoy your real life - off-line. Read a magazine or book, use a coloring book, make a bracelet, jewelry, or candle, cook a fresh meal from scratch, sit on a bench outside, or watch a movie/old-school cartoons.

Guest Contributor

Dr. LaNail R. Plummer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC-MD), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-DC), a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS), and Board-Certified TeleMental Health (BC-TMH) counselor. Dr. Plummer is also a full-time faculty member at Johns Hopkins University with specializations in clinical supervision, diverse couples counseling, and intersected-minority clients. She has over 13 years of clinical experience that spans variations in clients ages 3+, co-parenting, couples, members of the LGBTQ community, and families. Dr. Plummer is the co-founder and owner of EMC2 Mental Health Counseling and Educational Consulting. She, and her team of 9 Black Women Counselors and 3 Educational Specialists, operate 4 offices in Washington DC. As a graduate of Howard University & Marymount University, Dr. Plummer and her team ensure their clinical sessions incorporate cultural frameworks as a method of self-awareness, processing, and healing. Dr. Plummer has presented at 10+ international and national conferences to include the European Branch of the American Counseling Association (EB-ACA), the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), and the Maryland Counseling Association (MCA). Additionally, Dr. Plummer has presented insightful mental health tips and commentary on local and national media outlets to include ABC7, NBC4, and CNN. As a small business minority (Black, Woman, US Army Veteran) owner, Dr. Plummer believes in a cumulative approach to mental health, business development, and balanced living. Dr. Plummer is passionate, supportive, driven, and willing to serve.

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