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Shelita M Shaw

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Guest Contributor: Shelita M Shaw

Assistant Professor, Moraine Valley Community College Mental Health Trainer and

SMS Consulting



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

I AM A MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE...and my focus on Mental Health education first came as I spent a couple years co-teaching Black Male Leadership at Cook County Department of Corrections. This served as an opportunity to pour into the (often forgotten) incarcerated population. It also exposed me to a vulnerability among are black males that often goes unseen or misconstrued as a behavior problem. Currently, I travel across the country speaking on Classroom Wellness with predominantly Black schools like Purpose Built Communities in Atlanta and being the voice of black teachers and their mental health with organizations like Coffee, Hip Hop and Mental Health and American Psychology Association. Also, I work with the non-profit Erasing the Distance performing real life stories from people of diverse backgrounds to expose mental health challenges that occur in daily living.


What are some upcoming events you are leading, that promote mental health and wellness, that you would like for our Black Mental Wellness audience to know about?

  • Performance with Erasing the Distance -mid October

  • Dumb. Gay. Politics. Podcast-mid October

  • Speaker at University of Chicago-February 2023


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

Shelita earned her B.A. in English from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina; and her M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she graduated magna cum laude.


Currently, Shelita teaches Composition and Literature courses at Moraine Valley Community College, where she was awarded tenure in spring of 2010: Innovator of the Year 2018; Professor of the Year nominee 2018 and 2019.


What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise?

In the classroom, I am constantly revamping how my curriculums are created and students are educated. I have personally incorporated alternative assignments into my curriculum like Anti-Bullying Campaigns, Mental Health Days, Movie Night (in lieu of journals) and Explore Chicago -which allows students to visit a landmark in the city, tour it, explore it, then, assess it.


What are some things that we should know about your area of expertise?

I am a tenured professor who has been teaching 20 years. I am on sabbatical throughout the rest of the year to address/research Mental Health in Higher Education. My goal is to take this time to nurture a better understanding of the way black young adults experience mental health; More specifically, train this often-forgotten population around mental health, especially since my introduction to mental health came while attending the HBCU, Johnson C. Smith University.


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

For me, and my area of expertise of education, it will have to come by making Classroom Wellness a priority by making the teachers a priority. When the teachers feel safe and secure to share their struggles, others will follow suit and healing can begin!


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

For me, and my area of expertise of education, it will have to come by making Classroom Wellness a priority by making the teachers a priority. When the teachers feel safe and secure to share their struggles, others will follow suit and healing can begin!


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

In the Black community, it is. often believed if something is wrong, pray it away! It is also believed that if you cannot, something is "demonic" about you. BUT If you allow persons like myself a platform to talk about our personal journey with mental health and how I was able to marry it with my faith it could many lives in the Black community.


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

Absolutely! Feel free to listen to my podcast link for my journey with mental health.

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?

Journaling! Reading and writing is simply not as encouraged in our community but writing can save lives. I know!


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

I meditate and journal every morning. I also do a devotional before I start my day. However, two most effective ways I indulge in self-care is have therapy once a week and I turn my phone off nightly. Learning how to have control of the energy that comes in and out of my space is HUGE and evidence of that boundary is most evident before going to sleep and allowing my mind, body and spirit to refresh and RESTORE.


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

  1. Journaling

  2. Meditation/Music

  3. Therapy

  4. Devotional

  5. Phones off nightly


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

My amazing therapist, Jamie and reading others journeys like The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health by Dr. Rheeda Walker.




Guest Contributor

Shelita M Shaw began her teaching career over 20 years ago; and matriculated her way from primary and secondary schools to the collegiate level. She is on sabbatical throughout the rest of the year to address/research Mental Health in Higher Education. Her goal is to take this time to nurture a better understanding of the way young adults, specifically ages 18-25, experience mental health; More specifically, observe how black students and black educators experience mental health, especially since her introduction to mental health came while attending the HBCU, Johnson C. Smith University. The truth is there are things we notice about each other that perhaps nobody else will, not even their parents.


Shelita focuses a large part of her curriculum on Mental Health Education; creating workshops and projects including anti-bully campaigns and incorporating mental health days into her curriculum for students and teachers to take a break to ensure Classroom Wellness. As Sheilta has focused on Mental Health education, she spent a couple years co-teaching Black Male Leadership at Cook County Department of Corrections. This served as an opportunity to pour into the (often forgotten) incarcerated population.


Currently, Shelita travels across the country speaking on Classroom Wellness and being the voice of teachers and their mental health. Also, she works with the non-profit Erasing the Distance performing real life stories to expose mental health challenges in real life. Shelita earned her B.A. in English from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina; and her M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she graduated magna cum laude.


Currently, Shelita teaches Composition and Literature courses at Moraine Valley Community College, where she was awarded tenure in spring of 2010: Innovator of the Year 2018; Professor of the Year nominee 2018 and 2019.

Instagram: @sms_consulting










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