I am a Sunflower, the Sunflower is Me

Guest Contributor: Arielle Skinner, LMSW

Author, I am a Sunflower, the Sunflower is Me


What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

Black Mental Wellness, to me, means being intentional about creating space in our lives for vulnerability, healing, and safe spaces to honor our Black experiences. It means putting systems in place that consistently encourage wellness and further supports this intentionality.

How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?

Through the book, "I am a Sunflower, the Sunflower is Me" I wanted to be sure that Black girls felt seen and that the book created space for Black girls (particularly those in foster care) to heal, reflect, and feel affirmed. I believe the book creates space for Black girls to discuss topics with the adults in their lives. I also believe the book serves as a gentle reminder to those adults to continue to affirm, nurture, and encourage their Black girls to do and be everything they were created to be.


Tell us about your educational and/or professional training, and current area of expertise related to mental health and wellness?

I am a licensed social worker at the LMSW level in the State of Maryland. I have lived and professional experience in child welfare (particularly foster care) and addressing complex trauma and a variety of diagnoses with primarily Black clients in an outpatient mental health setting.


Tell us about your educational and/or professional training, and current area of expertise related to mental health and wellness?

I am a licensed social worker at the LMSW level in the State of Maryland. I have lived and professional experience in child welfare (particularly foster care), and addressing complex trauma and a variety of diagnoses with primarily Black clients in an outpatient mental health setting.


What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise (yoga instructor, clergy, mental health professional, etc.)?

I currently serve as a Treatment Foster Care Social Worker that oversees the holistic wellbeing of foster youth and encouraging them to engage in mental health services or engage in healing in ways that feel good to them. I facilitate a foster parent support group as well. By becoming an author and producing a children's book that is relatable to Black girls and creates a healing space for dialogue and reflection.


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

I think we are headed in a direction where more people are open to seeking mental health treatment. However, we still see the stigma as a barrier. I think the more people see therapists as relatable and human, that may be helpful.


What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?

Continuing to create safe spaces for healing and providing the community with adequate representation in the mental health field.


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

I was mandated to attend therapy as a foster youth in therapeutic foster care. I would go weekly to have a therapy session with a White woman in which I did not feel I could be my full self. It wasn't until years later that I realized I was ready to go to therapy on my own and pick my own therapist that everything changed. Once I realized I had a choice and could have a preference and choose a therapist that looked like me, that made all the difference and allowed me to be vulnerable and honor my Black experiences openly. I never looked back and to this day I proudly request a "Black and female therapist".


What wellness strategies do you think should be given more attention within the Black community? Are there any reasons why you think they are not given more attention?

Rest. I think capitalism and our history have gotten us away from resting our mind, bodies, and spirits.


How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?

Daily I check in with myself and say, "Arielle, what do you need?" And I allow myself to take a second to reflect and whatever it is, I schedule it into my day. Sometimes I make time by waking up earlier or getting creative about my down time.


What are your top 5 favorite wellness and self-care strategies?

  1. Resting

  2. Reading

  3. Working out

  4. Tapping into my creativity

  5. Engaging in spiritual practices such as praying

What resources do you find most helpful to encourage mental health and wellness?

Social media, word of mouth, conferences, and books/journals.



Guest Contributor

Arielle Skinner is a self-published author, book enthusiast, and licensed social worker who hails from Norfolk, Virginia. Quickly realizing her passion for foster youth and mental health, Arielle completed her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Norfolk State University. She later went on to complete her Master’s of Social Work degree with Louisiana State University. Arielle is the owner of B & S Publishing Co., and a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Arielle is a former foster youth who consults with foster care agencies and uses her voice and experiences to encourage those aging out of foster care as well as advocate for them. She now lives in Maryland with her husband and son. When not reading or writing, she can be found exploring new eats, traveling, chasing her toddler, and whatever else adds a little more joy to her day.






#BlackMentalWellness #MentalHealth #Therapy #Coping #Wellness


38 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All