Guest Contributor: Tanesha N Graham, MBA, CBHC
Certified Behavioral Health Coach
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
Black Mental Wellness is more than just the textbook definitions of mental illness and issues. Black Mental Wellness has to, and does, encompass cultural implications, societal pressures, racism, colorism, tone policing, respectability politics, generational trauma, etc. It is also to be noted that mental wellness is directly affected by physical wellbeing and vis versa.
How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?
When working towards decolonization and de-stigmatization of mental health, I press the narrative that it is more than a textbook definition. I speak on and write about all of the mitigating factors when it comes to addressing mental wellness. In my behavioral health coaching practice, I encourage these conversations because it is at the individual level that we can affect the most change. One individual talks to another, and another, and those individuals become a collective voice for change. I also provide tools and resources that can be freely shared.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
We have to negate the notion that mental illness and struggles are solely born from a lack of faith or something that we have done wrong in our lives. The thing is, we all struggle at one time or another and are in need of a loving hand and empathetic ear. We also have to be honest about how and what we feel and take the step forward to be transparent and vulnerable with each other.
What are some events you have lead, that promote mental health and wellness, that you would like for our Black Mental Wellness audience to know about?
On June 19th I was a guest on Pass the Perspective with Jae (Jennifer) Washington on LinkedIn Live where we specifically talked about destigmatizing mental health in the BIPOC, and specifically, the Black community. On June 22nd and 23rd I had a booth at the American Fitness Expo in Houston, TX where folx came by to learn about behavioral health coaching, register for a free mini-coaching session and enter to win three (3) free coaching sessions with me.
What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise?
As a mental health professional, specifically as a Certified Behavioral Health Coach, I provide tools, resources and information about mental wellness and how it impacts our daily lives.
What are some things that we should know about your area of expertise?
There are a whole lot of terms floating around out there; life coaching, mental health coaching, behavioral health coaching, etc. It’s enough to pique your interest and befuddle you at the same time. I have an analogy that I like to use when describing Behavioral Health Coaching that seems to encapsulate all of the nuances. Remember how every time Bugs Bunny™ went on vacation, he’d pop up from tunneling with a map and declare “I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque”? He takes the time to review his map and after a comical soliloquy he decides that while where he is currently isn’t exactly where he was trying to go, he’ll make the best of it and get back on track once his adventure is done.
Behavioral Health (BH) Coaching is goal-oriented and focuses on forward progression. Think of it like this, BH Coaching is like driving to a destination, looking through your front windshield, and concentrating on getting to where you need and want to be. Behavioral health coaching focuses on getting you from where you are to where you want to be and may have detours or pit stops along the way. Even with those detours and pitstops, you are pressing forward toward your ultimate goal, much like our friend Bugs. Behavioral Health Coaching however is NOT therapy/psychotherapy.
Therapy is like figuring out that you made a wrong turn somewhere and looking into your rearview mirror, turning around, backtracking a bit, and then starting towards your destination again. Therapy is a guided process that delves into your past to help you uncover the reasons for certain triggers, behaviors, unpacks past trauma, etc., with a Psychologist, Therapist, and/or Psychiatrist, that may be keeping you from reaching your final destination. While the human condition cannot be distilled down to a driving analogy, or a Looney Tunes™ cartoon, it’s helpful to properly differentiate between Behavioral Health Coaching and Therapy.
What can potential clients expect during an initial session? Follow up sessions?
All clients receive a free 20-min introductory coaching session with me to see if behavioral health coaching might be the right fit for them. During the session we will briefly chat about the client-coach relationship and what the client wants to work on/their goals. If they decide to move forward with full behavioral health coaching sessions, I will create a portal just for them to schedule their sessions, view their coaching agreement, go pre-session work, ask questions and view resources. I work on a sliding scale so as to meet people where they are. Cost should not be a barrier to care.
Tanesha N Graham, MBA, CBHC is Houston, TX born and bred and became interested in Psychology while attending DeBakey High School for the Health Professions. More than anything, she always wanted to be a help to others. She found a way to do this by starting a career in Human Resources and working her way up over 14 years from a Benefit Coordinator/Admin to a Senior HR Consultant to small and medium sized businesses (SMB). Then she transitioned to a career and company that perfectly blended her passion for helping employers and employees and psychology, she joined Ginger (now Headspace Care) as a Client Executive. It was the best career decision she has made to date. She is now a Senior Operations Manager and is dedicated to mental health and wellness, with a focus on underserved communities and social determinants of health. She has 15+ years of Human Resources Management and Consulting experience and has helped both companies and individuals navigate the next steps in their careers and organizational evolution. Tanesha holds a B.A. in Psychology, an MBA in Organizational Psychology & Development, and is a Certified Behavioral Health Coach (CBHC) through the Ginger/Headspace Training Institute.