Meagan Copelin, MBA, EdD
Tell us about your educational and/or professional training, and current area of expertise related to mental health and wellness?
My name is Meagan Copelin and I am an advocate and counselor of mental health. I hold an MBA and Doctorate degree. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 12, battling depression, anxiety, and several other illnesses. Through my work with my organization, Mental Rich, I am a voice for young girls and women suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other disorders, due to abuse, abandonment and rejection. I act as a support system and advocate a message of hope, encouragement and support.
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 am currently working on several wellness retreats and seminars, in addition to several other programs that lend a voice to the stigma of mental health in the black community.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
This issue of masking mental illness is prevalent in the black community. We need to stop telling each other that mental health does not exist. The majority of us who suffer from mental health in the black community suffer in silence due to the stigma associated with mental health. Speaking from experience, I grew up in a culture that tells us “we are to be strong,” that we “should deal with problems on our own.” This only enforces the idea that it is not okay for us to say we are hurting inside. I have spoke to countless friends who say “you don’t suffer from mental health illnesses and you should pray.” I do pray, daily; however, I also need to be realistic and understand that I do suffer from mental health illnesses and I do need to seek additional help, such as counseling. Just a few years ago, I took 70 pills and was sent to an inpatient mental health facility for 5 days, where I wore a straitjacket. I was told I was crazy by many. After my hospitalization, I still was not happy. God had given me another chance at a life and I hated myself more. I grew up dealing with so much and I still had lots of anger in my heart. For years, I realized that this anger was due to my lack of forgiveness. I had to learn to let go and start forgiving the people who hurt me. After I learned the power of forgiveness, I felt like a new person, a better me. I decided to seek counseling and joined groups at the church I was attending. I surrounded myself with happy and delightful people. I started to blog and pray. I started to feel better just being around people and talking to a counselor. I also involved myself in activities so that I would not be alone. These small changes started to help me and I was able to manage many of the illnesses I suffered from.
If we are unable to remove the negative stigma surrounding mental health in the black community, we are willingly allowing another generation to grow up without access to counseling and mental health resources that can help them live a happy and healthy life. In order to end the stigma of mental health in the black community, we need to have candid conversations surrounding mental illnesses. I do not think many of us are aware that mental health is a disease and it affects us in more ways than we think. People need to be educated, as I have had conversations with friends who do not understand why I suffer from mental health. I have to educate them, as this is extremely important. The black community should not be afraid to have discussions surrounding mental health. These are the types of conversations that should start in the household without judgement. There seems to be more judgement surrounding this issue rather than educating ourselves on this issue. Lets start having conversations first and then we can move on from there.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
Self-care was never an important part of my life until a year ago. I used to look in the mirror and tear myself apart. Here, I was working a six-figure job, while building a business and working on my doctorate, but I was mad and angry. I hated myself. I eventually prayed to God that I would meet people who would become a positive impact in my life. Overtime, I started to care about me. I started to end damaging friendships and relationships. I needed to rid people who no longer served me, including family. Once, I took control of my life, I started to gain clarity. My mind was clear. Yes, I was still battling mental health illnesses, but I was able to manage them effectively. I started to worry about things that were important. I decided to start saying “NO” and putting me first. And guess what, I felt better. I am still a work in progress, but I am nowhere near where I was a year ago.
Meagan Copelin is an international speaker, author, empowerment coach, blogger, contributing writer and podcaster. She is the founder of Mental Rich, a mental health movement dedicated to helping women of color who suffer from mental illnesses, steaming from abuse, abandonment and rejection. Meagan’s passion is to become a trailblazing voice for young girls and women worldwide. Drawing on her own experiences of mental illness due to abuse, rejection, and abandonment, Meagan uses her words to encourage others to build a home within themselves; to love, live, and create fearlessly. Her tremendous projects and efforts have helped her to be featured on several platforms for the purpose of empowering women to tell their story from struggle to success and live up to their full potential.
For additional information, please contact Meagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase your copy of Thrive Girl Thrive book, where she speaks more about Mental Health, please visit: http://bit.ly/thrivegirlthrivemeagan