Guest Contributor: Monica Hall
Author, School of Hard Knocks: Overcoming the Disappointment of Attending a For-Profit College
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
To me it means we are comfortable in our own skin. That, in spite of everything that is thrown at us in this country, we know we are worthy of being here and, for that reason, we allow ourselves to thrive, not just survive. It means that we truly, deeply love ourselves and each other. That we share genuine community with one another for the sake of improving the lives of the next generation of black folk in America.
How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?
I personally have been a part of protests, marches, and negotiations to make conditions better in some workplaces in order to positively impact black people and our communities.
How can we encourage more people to seek mental health treatment?
I think transparency is key at this critical time in the world. I have no qualms about sharing that, after this horrible experience, I almost lost my mind. I couldn't understand why this had happened, and it literally tore me apart. Before I let anyone else go through what I went through mentally, I want to share with them what I did. I sought a therapist, I prayed more than I ever had before, and I journaled incessantly because I had to get on the other side of this situation.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
Dialogue first. I think we need to share our experiences and ways we can help ourselves and each other. But immediately after that dialogue, we have to take action! I'm going to go off on a tangent for a moment, but one thing I'm so sick of hearing is that America needs to "talk" about racism. No, America needs to take ACTION against racism; real action to change it's ways…like yesterday.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
I step away from the noise. I turn off all social media. I pray. I talk with my son and grandchildren. I play with my dog. I don't watch the news much at all. I avoid vexing people and music as much as I can. I've started to exercise and eat better. I spend quality time with my husband.
What resources do you find most helpful to encourage mental health and wellness?
I enjoy the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I'm on my 2nd copy because I wrote so much in the first one the pages started falling out. I absolutely love listening to some of T.D. Jakes’ sermons. If I may recommend just a few I'd definitely suggest “Nothing Just Happens", "Making Peace with Your Past", and "Dig Your Way Out of It". I have probably listened to Nothing Just Happens over 100 times in the past 10 years. No exaggeration.
In 2009, despite spotting red flags in my new marriage and recently experiencing the death of 6 people very close to me, I decided to go back to school to further my nursing education. Little did I know that my attempt at the American dream would take an unexpected turn, placing me in an all-out political battle with the for-profit college industry in Kentucky, drowning in student loan debt without the degree to show for it, and mentally, emotionally, and physically spinning out of control. The struggle with my own mental health after this ordeal led me down a rabbit hole for more than a decade of my life.
In the middle of the pandemic I decided that it was time to come out of that rabbit hole and get my life back. In that desolate place is where the idea for my book, School of Hard Knocks: Overcoming the Disappointment of Attending a For-Profit College was born. My experience will give readers some of the tools needed to bounce back after life's curveballs.