Karah N. Palmer
Research Coordinator at the National Center for School Mental Health
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
To me, Black Mental Wellness means embracing our full humanity and learning to be well, which is really about caring for our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It is also about unlearning negative messages about ourselves and others. In the unlearning, we make room to explore and create a world in which we can be our full selves! Black Mental Wellness is also about community. It's about seeing ourselves in another. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer, "Nobody's Free Until Everybody's Free!". Taking care and embracing our full selves helps us show up for one another and empowers us to create spaces that promote wellness for us all.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
The first step to end stigma is to address the ways we may stigmatize ourselves when we struggle. Often, the ways we see and treat others is reflective of the ways we see and treat ourselves. So, step number one is to practice Self Compassion. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion has three elements: (1) self kindness or being gentle with ourselves and refraining from judgement (2) common humanity or understanding that to be human is to be imperfect and that is OKAY (3) mindfulness or being willing to observe "negative" emotions and experiences rather than making them our identity. As we grow in self compassion, we can be more kind, accepting, and supportive of others. Other practical ways to end stigma are to talk openly about the importance of caring for our mental health and sharing culturally-informed mental health resources and strategies. We can also simply ask the people in our lives how they are doing and what they need, in terms of their mental wellness. Checking in and making ourselves available can help our individual communities feel more comfortable sharing their hardships.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
I've come to understand that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another, so it's important to be selective with my yes. Saying no can be quite difficult, especially when we've been conditioned to overextended ourselves, but it frees up time for self care and wellness. Implementing practical self care strategies into my daily routine is helpful for making time for it.
Also, keeping it simple helps! Self-care doesn't have to be extreme. Self-care could be as simple as journaling for 5 minutes, choosing a healthier snack instead of junk food, taking a minute to breathe, or asking for help.
What are your top 5 favorite wellness and self-care strategies?
Spending time in nature
Karah Palmer is deeply invested in the mental and emotional health of Black individuals, families, and communities. She started her career in education as a Pre-school teacher and believes that knowledge is power! Karah is a Research Coordinator at the National Center for School Mental Health and supports Black Mental Wellness' Collegiate Corner. She earned her Master of Education in Community Development from Vanderbilt University, Peabody College and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Georgia State University.