Brennan Allan Steele
Author, Educator, and Founder of the Breathe Brotha Movement
What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise?
As an author and educator, the mental health and wellness of black folks is always at the forefront of my work Through my recent publication "breathe: a guided healing journal for black men," I seek to offer space for black men to reclaim their own story, reflect on their identity, and understand their emotions in a world that was not made for them. Black men must simultaneously meet the expectations of manhood that tell them to not show any signs of perceived "weakness" in showing emotion, while also having to endure the trauma of a society that routinely murders folks that look like them in silence. This, in addition to the stigma around counseling in black communities, often leaves black men in an unhealthy space mentally and emotionally. "breathe" seeks to catalyze the healing from the realities of existence of every black man who completes it.
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
To me, Black Mental Wellness means the emotional and mental wholeness of a community of people that throughout history has always had to continue to press on despite a complete disregard of their humanity. From slavery to the civil rights movement to the current Black Lives Matter movement, trauma is unfortunately a part of our lived experience as black people. Black Mental Wellness is thus then a radical undertaking because it suggests an alternate future where black folks thrive anyhow.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
We first need to see the pursuit of mental wellness as a part of our own personal liberation. Whether from the mistakes and regrets of personal histories or from the mental chains as a result of operating in white spaces, investing in one's mental health is about gaining freedom. Furthermore, we must, especially in faith spaces, view seeking mental health services as not a replacement but as a supplement. Seeking mental health does not discount your faith tradition or trust in your Higher Power. One could argue that it actually can deepen that experience as you become more whole and able to breakthrough some of the issues that stop you from prospering.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. A huge step in my life has been recognizing what is a priority in my life, and then creating boundaries to protect those things. One of those things is my own wellness and self-care. This means I hold the time for my self-care actions sacred. Once it hits a certain time each day, I shut down work responsibilities, and I start taking care of myself.
Brennan Allan Steele is a believer, author, educator, and founder of the Breathe Brotha movement. He was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and then went to college at Duke University in North Carolina. He currently serves as a founding 7th grade math teacher and content lead in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the course of his life and his own healing journey, he has become passionate about the mental and emotional health of black boys and men. Through his recent publication, "breathe: a guided healing journal for black men", he hopes to catalyze a journey toward healing for black men across the world.