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Black Mental Wellness Trainee 2020-2021

Guest Contributor:

Felix Gabriel Lopez

Black Mental Wellness Intern

What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

Black Mental Wellness is the fulfillment of spirt that lies amongst Black people across the diaspora. In spite of centuries filled with pain, scrutiny, violence, death, sadness, and stigma, Black people have the ability to see the crevices of joy. Black Mental Wellness is harnessing a keen sense of self-awareness to allow space to modify and heal from certain behaviors grounded in trauma and pain so that future generations perceive themselves and their community as nothing less than great and deserving.

Black Mental Wellness spans across the Black diasporic community with an intersectional lens to be in hands with those who also identify as LGBTQIA+. The mind is a powerful tool that can activate biases, stereotypes, and action, so why not use this tool a method to shed light in the good that is within ourselves for others to share? The possibilities of Black Mental Wellness are endless! When we see consciousness and vulnerability as a sign of strength, we allow ourselves to radically imagine the future of Black Mental Wellness.

How can we encourage more people to seek mental health treatment?

Mental health treatment is compounded with stigma. Stigma shoulders a burden among all of us. This is especially true with those living with a mental diagnosis. Secrecy, embarrassment, and invisibility gives the mental diagnosis power over people. Anyone could have a mental diagnosis, but disclosure and treatment are often associated with weakness. I want to stop that trajectory and normalize seeking mental health treatment. In making mental health and treatment part of everyday conversation allows for people to feel empowered to express their need for help.

Asking for help can be difficult for many people especially those raised in an environment where it was encouraged to work on issues in isolation. Unlike a friend or family member, mental health treatment is an unbiased space solely served for the individual to share. Finding the appropriate mental health treatment can be overwhelming, but with the appropriate guidance it is a life altering experience. In explaining the process, it can be compared to finding a job or dating: not every therapist is the right one. People should not be afraid to initially seek several avenues of treatment before finding the right person them.

Do you have an experience with seeking mental health treatment that you would like to share with the Black Mental Wellness audience?

While navigating the maze of my serious mental diagnosis, I learned to love myself. Throughout my early twenties, I faced a series of obstacles where I thought I was alone and different from the world. I was scared of the person I was turning into. Stigma amplified my fears with the media often portraying Black men living with a serious mental di