Guest Contributor: Carol R. Ray, Ph. D.
Author, “Ph.D.’s Have Bipolar Too: My Story”
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
I define Black Mental Wellness, as being fully exposed to the topic of mental illness: its definition, in addition to utilizing successful coping skills when needed without the feelings of bondage of the stigma associated it.
How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?
I educate female inmates, about mental illness, and how they can remain hopeful in the midst of challenges.
Tell us about your educational and/or professional training, and current area of expertise related to mental health and wellness?
I have a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Master of Science degree in Food and Nutrition from North Carolina A&T State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Spelman College. I am experienced with teaching the autistic population how to communicate and teaching them behavior modification. I am also experienced with speaking at Crisis Intervention Team Law Enforcement Trainings (informing them how to be more sensitive to those in a mental crisis).
How can we encourage more people to seek mental health treatment?
We can encourage more people to seek mental health by ensuring them that having a mental illness is not the worst thing in the world. Also, ensuring them that there is life after a mental health diagnosis. One can successfully live with a mental illness as long as it is managed properly (whether that is through taking medication or seeing a mental health provider).
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
We, as African Americans, need to talk more about mental illness. Additionally, there should be more platforms where those who have a mental illness can share their stories. As a result, our community may feel more comfortable talking about mental illness.
Do you have an experience with seeking mental health treatment that you would like to share with the Black Mental Wellness audience?
Yes. When I first sought treatment, I interviewed the mental health provider to see if they were a good fit for me. This was my utmost concern when first seeking treatment.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
I make time for my own wellness and self-care by enjoying the simple things in life. I have identified things that I like to do, which is therapy for me (walking, art, listening to my favorite types of music in addition to reading).
Carol R. Ray has a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Interdepartmental Nutrition. A Master of Science degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Food and Nutrition. She is a 1983 graduate from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.
Her career spans over several fields. From teaching Anatomy, Biology, Physiology, Chemistry and Earth Science at the college level, to working as Project Coordinator at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore within the Department of Physical Therapy. Additionally, she has worked in research, as a Senior Research Program Coordinator, at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Carol has worked as a Behavior Therapist, teaching autistic children how to communicate and behavior modification. She currently works with the special needs population in the public school system.
Carol has contributed to state and county publications that has focused on mental health. Including her book entitled, “Ph.D.’s Have Bipolar Too: My Story.” Carol wrote her book as a result of an ordeal that she experienced on June 2, 2011, as a result of being in a mental crisis. She is also the author of, “Poems Inspired by Mother”, which she wrote as a result of her mother receiving the news that she had two days to live. Dr. Ray is a mental health advocate for those who have mental health conditions. She has been a regular presenter, for two years, at Crisis Intervention Team Trainings for Law Enforcement in Fairfax, Virginia. Additionally, for two years, Carol served on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Prince William County, Virginia. Dr. Ray actively volunteers in her church on the Prison Ministry, sharing her story, with women inmates, about her mental illness. Carol is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.