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Show Up and Speak Up!

Guest Contributor:

Jenna Pantin

Owner of Chaconia Candles

What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

Research has shown that Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population. In a documentary with Dr. Ibram Kendi, he mentioned if you see a Black person with their backs bent, it’s because they carry the Black race on their shoulders. The backs of Black women bend even more. Yet, the stereotype of “Strong Black woman” and “fearless Black girls” prevents women and girls from being vulnerable. Black women are pressured to be superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race and gender-based discrimination, institutional racism, biases, and racial disparities in their daily lives. Black mental wellness means knowing that our vulnerability does not define our strength. With that in mind, we can be authentic, bring our whole selves to the table, and approach wellness holistically. Mental and emotional health, just like physical health, requires you to put in the work. We must break the barriers and actively and consistently work towards our mental and emotional health. It's a journey, not a race!

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

I use my platforms to impact change. Whether it’s on social media or speaking to our community one-on-one and at pop-up shops. I can’t tell you how many Black folks, particularly Black women who have shared with me that they have anxiety and depression. Most were developed or exacerbated in the past year. Though it’s great to see that we are more transparent about our mental health as a community, it’s sad to see how egregious acts towards our community continue and consequently impact us. That’s why I continue to do all I can to help our community through our products, our platforms, and donations to companies like Black Mental Wellness who provide impactful resources and mental health care for our community.

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?

I have a group of close friends. We call ourselves “Sister Circle.” We created a YouTube video about mental and emotional health for our WBLS Circle of Sisters virtual shop. It was empowering for us as it was for others. I will like to continue to create these videos. Often, we think that we are in this alone, and we are not. I want to continue to uplift and support our community any way that I can. I also want to provide the tools to support the next generation.

Throughout the year, I will continue applying for grants so I can offer free workshops for the youths in our community to teach them about:

  1. Entrepreneurship

  2. Mental and Emotional Wellness

  3. Public speaking, speech fundamentals, and communications

  4. Sustainability

  5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Each one teach one!

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

At my full time job, I lead our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work. Before that as part of my job, I led the employee wellness program for employees. These two very important work, allowed me to see that they can't be separated. They are integrated and one can't impact people without the other. That's why we must approach both areas holistically.

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

I promote mental and emotional wellness through the creation of our high-quality, non-toxic, long-lasting, and clean-burning candles and home fragrances. They have no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, and are also cruelty-free and vegan. As mentioned before, the sense of smell plays a vital role in our emotions and moods and can help reduce stress and anxiety. The sense of smell can also positively contribute to our physical health.

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

I possess a dynamic blend of communications, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and wellness knowledge and expertise. I use this everyday for my business and strategizing the best next steps for me and our community.

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

I was at a webinar one day, and Dr. Jillian Rose from HSS spoke about minority triggers that Black folks experience, which are often cyclical. Which means the catalysts impacting our mental health may look different. Add the challenges of working mothers during the pandemic to the mix, and that can be a recipe for mental health triggers. We need to own that and speak to it! We need to not be ashamed and seek the help we need.

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

Show up and speak up! I think it starts with driving awareness and education within the Black community. We need to dismantle the "Strong Black woman" and "fearless Black girls (and boys)" mentality, which often comes from inside or outside our race. We also need to build advocacy and allies in our communities, schools, and workplaces. More importantly, we need to share our stories and our truth. People are more inclined to act and seek help if they can relate to someone else's struggle.

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?

I know our community hustles hard, but we need to normalize and socialize rest. Yes, we are resilient, but we must be able to take breaks and give our bodies and minds time to rejuvenate and replenish.

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

This is a great question! Every day does not look the same day-to-day self-care may look different. In the mornings, I light our candles. One for my six-year-old daughter while she's in virtual school, and one for me in my office upstairs. I immediately feel calm, restored, and comforted after lighting them. I set some time for prayer. Some days, I will look at inspirational videos or read a snippet of an inspirational book. At night, I find some way to wind down, and not just go to bed. These days, the weather is getting warm. As a Trinbagonian, I welcome the sun! I walk outside and lift my face to the sky and bask in it for a bit. I feel rejuvenated when I do that! Also, when my husband comes home, I sometimes hideaway in my car just to get a moment of silence. I either process my thoughts, or think of nothing at all.

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

  1. Adding our candles to my own mental and emotional wellness routine

  2. Speak to a close friend

  3. Listen to my favorite music, mostly soca, reggae, and gospel. I would also watch inspirational videos.

  4. Enjoy nature and sunshine

  5. Rest

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

Mental health resources need to be customized. It's not cookie cutter. It can be customized based on race, LGBTQIA+, eating disorders, gender, age, and more. Focusing on target groups can help narrow the areas of expertise and the types of resources. The platforms I have found most impactful, specifically during the pandemic, were virtual events and webinars. Making it informational, interactive, engaging, but not forceful.

Guest Contributor

Jenna Pantin is the owner of Chaconia Candles. She is a mom of two beautiful children Jasia and Jaxon, who are her greatest joys! She and her husband were born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. She loves her culture and the Caribbean. That's why they paid homage to their home-country by naming their business after Trinidad and Tobago's national flower, Chaconia. They launched Chaconia Candles in the middle of the pandemic. These are unprecedented times. Jenna's seen healthcare disparities, food insecurities, unemployment, racial injustices, and mental and emotional health are impacted like never before. She notes that her mental and emotional health have been through the wringer too! She wanted to build herself up and bring her community along with her.

The sense of smell plays a vital role in our emotions and moods and can help reduce stress and anxiety. That’s why they make and provide non-toxic, clean-burning, high-quality, cruelty-free, and vegan candles and home fragrances that can be added to your emotional and mental wellness routine. Their candles and home fragrances can be a natural way to help heal your mind, body, and soul.

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