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Spotlight Interview

Guest Contributor:

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.