Ken Walker, Founder: Detroit Mental Health
Ken Walker is an advocate for “mental wealth.” He is the creator of the K. Walker Collective clothing line and nonprofit, Detroit Mental Health. Below he tells us more about his work and journey.
Breaking the Stigma
A few ways that I promote mental health & wellness is through active community engagement. In the past year, I have planned, organized, and facilitated panels, virtual social media discussions here in the Detroit community.
What I Have Done
Just recently, I garnered participation from Detroit City Council, local creatives entrepreneurs, Pastors, Community Activists, as well as Congressional Leaders to rally better awareness around the plethora of mental wellness resources that are readily accessible to all Metro Detroiters. But also to share their unique perspectives on how we normalize the practice of mental wellness treatment and management.
In 2019, I also declared November 10th as Detroit Mental Health (a nod to World Mental Health Day, recognized on October 10th each year). This event compelled me to curate Metro Detroit’s first-ever resource hub for all things mental health. The goal is simple: provide a one-stop destination to find everything from finding a therapist, a counselor, a life coach, a notable community clinic, and how to get better involved with local non-profits and mental health organizations in the Metro Detroit area.
My Self-Love Journey
My self-love journey began in the fall of 2017 when I saw my first therapist. A Black woman who helped me unravel traumas and take actionable steps towards being the leader I was born to be. I honestly think that as Black people, we should see Black therapists — it’s powerful and the best way to tackle our traumas to heal more progressively. I was diagnosed with what is called High-functioning Depression about three years ago. This meant that I could be excelling in my everyday life, my career and endeavors but suffer in silence to the point that no one would ever know I was battling addiction and suicidal thoughts. As a Black man, I did not feel empowered to embrace my vulnerability because of the stigmas around toxic masculinity.
My faith and accountability helped me — but only for what I would reveal in our conversations. I never shared my experiences of anxiety and depression with anyone. It was hard. But taking the huge step of seeking therapy is where it all changed.
My Call-to-Action for Black Men
As Black men, we have to normalize being vulnerable. It starts there. And it’s even more imperative that we normalize talking amongst each other when we do not feel good — what I have observed from myself and my Black male friends, we tend to hide our hide our pain with behaviors and vices that can become detrimental to our healing.
Currently, I have called on every man close to me to start by actively checking in on each other. And secondly, to start being better examples to the youth — they’re watching us. We have to talk to our children and the kids that look up to us about mental wellness and how to practice self-care, including coping with trauma. We’ve all experienced some form of trauma as adolescents rather it be a break-up with our childhood crush and even more extreme cases such as abuse.
Lastly, let us all begin to normalize the practice of mental wellness and not make it a silo within health care — seeing a therapist, a psychological evaluation, mental check-up should be just as normal as going to see a dentist, a primary care physician or orthodontists. There is much mental wealth to be accumulated once we invest more of our time in nourishing our minds.
Ken Walker hopes that his work will continue to encourage others, especially within the black community, to not only normalize the use of mental health providers, but to also see therapy as nourishment for the mind.