Guest Contributor: Tracy N. Harris
Founder, The L.O.V.E. Club
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
Black Mental wellness is the ability for us to feel safe, free, and heard—mind, body and spirit. It is doing what it takes to be mentally healthy as well as confident in our emotions
How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?
The L.O.V.E. Club (TLC) is specifically designed to be an asset to the community. We exist so that we can assist in fostering positive, strong, sensitive, loving, intelligent young ladies into womanhood. Our prayer is that these young ladies will pay it forward and one day be mentors as well.
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?
TLC meets on the fourth Saturday of every month. Check out our Instagram for the next meeting date! Due to COVID hyperactivity we made plans to surprise our current members with a gift bag drop off for our Year 5 Anniversary.
In January, we will repeat what we did last year, traveling to each "Ladybug's" home to drop off a specialized gift bag from The L.O.V.E. Club Leaders. We have also dedicated our upcoming year to having very specific guest speakers come in every month discussing everything from maintaining friendship to surviving AIDS. Which will include a session led by Black Mental Wellness’s very own, Dr. Danielle Busby, in June.
Tell us about your educational and/or professional training, and current area of expertise related to mental health and wellness?
I have absolutely no educational or professional training. My expertise is wholly my experience and my obedience to God. He has promised me that He will provide all the answers I need even if He needs to use someone else.
What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise (yoga instructor, clergy, mental health professional, etc.)?
As a mentor, I am constantly encouraging my young ladies to talk to me or any of our other mentors. They are also encouraged to pray, and journal.
What are some things that we should know about your area of expertise?
I am not a professional but my whole heart is dedicated to my ministry. I use prayer to lead me, and I depend on God's direction for my life and my ministry. The L.O.V.E. Club is definitely a labor of love and, although I didn't initially feel equipped, I know without a doubt that I have been called.
How can we encourage more people to seek mental health treatment?
I believe we need to normalize the need for help and share the very real testimony of how it helps.
What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?
More examples of mental health success stories in the Black community will motivate others who believe in the stigma to open up to the possibility of better mental health.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
I pray and read devotionals daily. In addition to being a mentor for The L.O.V.E. Club, I am a long-time member of a book club, Girlfriends on the Same Line, and I recently started a group that is specifically dedicated to allowing women in all stages of marriage a space to freely be themselves and express without judgement or condemnation. In addition, I love to travel and take frequent trips to bask in God's glory.
What are your top 5 favorite wellness and self-care strategies?
Tracy is a dedicated mother, wife, and mentor. She is a mother to three and a friend to all. After enduring a lifetime of struggles from her childhood through her adulthood, Tracy was commissioned by God to create a space for young ladies to express the reality of life and receive support and sound wisdom from women of faith. That is why The L.O.V.E. Club was created. The Ladies of Virtue and Esteem (L.O.V.E.) Club, inspired by scriptures 1 Corinthian 13:4-8 and Psalm 31:30, desires to create a place for young ladies to come together and learn what it means to be a Christian lady of virtue and esteem, who will be held in high regard by her family, friends, and acquaintances. The leaders strive to teach young ladies that God loves them no matter what and what it means to be a true woman of God, from this point in their lives going forward. Ladybugs freely voice opinions, frustrations, and difficulties that they may be experiencing while addressing all subjects from a spiritual perspective and keeping our discussions in the strictest confidence.