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Speak To Me Consulting

Guest Contributor: LeNisha Watson

Mental Health Clinician



What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

Black Mental Wellness is a vital care process to our community that should be self-designed by the individual in treatment and is best approached collaboratively. It is necessary to the success of our people now and hereafter.

 

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

I currently serve on the Mayor’s African American Advisory Council (MAAAC) in the city of Tampa. I am also the Vice Chair of the Florida Substance Use & Mental Health Advisory Council, a member of the Florida Department of Health (DOH) Health Equity Coalition and the Positive Mental Health Committee for Tampa General Hospital (TGH)|Tampa Well, a Tampa Organization of Black Affairs alumni and a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. I use my knowledge and expertise in mental health in collaboration with these organizations to promote my passion for creating positive social change for the Black community through advocacy, counseling, research, technical assistance, and training.

 

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 had the pleasure of working with TampaWell, activated by Tampa General Hospital in partnership with the City of Tampa, is a revolutionary health and wellness initiative with the goal of making Tampa the ultimate wellness destination in the United States. Our mission at Tampa General Hospital is to empower communities and transform lives.


TampaWell is the embodiment of this mission. This endeavor focuses not only on preventative health to reduce chronic disease and prevent individuals from experiencing repeated hospitalizations; it also supports the city's most at-risk residents by addressing underlying social factors that impact health.


This multi-year effort focuses on three areas: Regular movement, healthy eating and access to healthy food, and positive mental health.

 

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

I hold a Master’s degree in Community Psychology from Martin University and a Master Public Health degree from the University of Phoenix.

 

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

I have conducted clinical research as a Principal Investigator in the mental health and substance abuse fields to improve treatment retention with the use of various intervention modalities and technology. I currently work as a therapist in Hillsborough County Public Schools and am an avid community Chronic Disease Self Management program facilitator, author and public speaker.

 

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

As a Black woman, I have had my fair share of trauma and stress. Being a mother and clinician only added to it. I have wanted to run away, had people talk about me, lie on me and criticize me due to their own generational trauma. When trauma becomes tradition it takes true healing to break from it, or you will go back to it ceremoniously and consequently pass it on. Counseling has helped me buck tradition and begin to heal, but you can be HEALED and still not be WHOLE. Hurt people, HURT people, but so do HEALING people.


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

Sharing our stories and personal experiences surrounding mental health will empower others to seek treatment. I think being transparent in our conversations is key.

 

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

To end the stigma in the Black community we have to speak up and never stop the conversation!  This will create a more open and supportive environment in which we can truly normalize speaking about mental health and finally break the cycle of silence and misunderstanding surrounding mental health issues among our culture.

 

What can potential clients expect during an initial session? Follow up sessions?

In the initial session I encourage potential clients to identify their Three P’s which are goals in the following areas: Personal, Purpose and Passion. Through healing techniques and positive philosophies my clients learn to create more of what they want in life, including more wellness in their spirit, mind and body. Follow up sessions focus on principles of positive mental health, affirmations, action planning and the willingness to turn pain into purpose.

 

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

I sought professional mental health treatment and support for PTSD from childhood trauma and anxiety/ depression as a domestic violence abuse survivor.

 

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 believe in the The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) wellness strategy. WRAP is a framework with which you can develop an effective approach to overcoming distressing symptoms, and unhelpful behavior patterns. It is a tool with which you can get more control over your problems and focuses on hope, personal responsibility, self-advocacy, education, and support. I think this should be implemented in the Black Community as a way of monitoring wellness, times of being less well and times when experiences are uncomfortable and distressing. WRAP meets the individual where they are, promotes autonomy and empowers the individual to verbalize how they would like others to support them at these different times and seek resources/treatment if necessary.

 

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

I am a huge planner. If it doesn't go in my planner, it literally does not happen. I structure each day with doing something for myself (Personal), something for my family (Purpose) and something related to mental health or my businesses (Passion). However, there is a caveat! If I do not do something for myself- I do not get to do the purposeful and passionate things. Meaning if I do not pour into myself first, I do not get to pour into anything or anyone else. This is not law in my life, because life happens, but it definitely is a guideline I am committed to following to ensure I am successful.


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

  1. Prayer

  2. Affirmations

  3. Meditation

  4. Journaling and

  5. Yoga

 

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

I find calming, wellness/fitness, planning apps and my village/community vital resources that keep me active, engaged and accountable.



Guest Contributor

LeNisha Watson is a qualified mental health professional who helps individuals get well, stay well, and take wellness and recovery into their own hands. She believes that there is a fine line between enabling and empowering and that wellbeing is a care process that should be self-designed by the individual in treatment and is best approached collaboratively.


If you feel unfulfilled in your life, you're not alone. Everyone feels angry, frustrated, and dissatisfied at certain points in life. Anxiety, depression and life circumstances further complicate it, but "You can repair your past and restore yourself to a life of well-being by filling yourself up and fixing what's broken".

Join her on a wellness journey.






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