All Articles Tagged "mental health"

7 Ways To Practice Self-Care When The World Could Care Less

September 27th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shutterstock

In the email thread I’m included on for a lovely art collective and book club, we send each other messages about the different things we have going on and that are on our minds. One of the young women in the group sent out an email saying she was thinking of everyone after the recent shootings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, and the protests that followed. A few of the members responded, including one woman whose message struck me: “I’m sending you all back that love. Be ruthless about self care during these times.”

We underestimate just how important it is to look out for ourselves as the world around us becomes increasingly unstable. We are subject to images of our people being gunned down, we’re literally falling ill due to the chaos at our place of work, and we’re also trying to combat negative narratives that claim we aren’t enough of this, while being too much of that. When it feels like no one is looking out for us, we have to take care of ourselves. Self-care is central to good health and well-being, so you need to find a way to make it a priority. If you’re wondering how exactly you can practice self-care, here are a few examples to help you out.

Know When It’s Best to Say No

When we worry about letting people down, many of us end up saying yes to things that we know we really don’t want to do. We’re invited to an for work, and to make a good impression, we agree to check it out though we knew we wanted to do something else that evening. We agree to help a friend with something that we’re already overwhelmed by the idea of. We fit yet another responsibility into our calendar so that we can be everything to everybody. Know when to put yourself first. As one woman once told me, if something suggested for you to take part in “is not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.

Clean up Your Circle

You can’t practice good self-care if all of the people you surround yourself with leave you stressed and anxious. If the individuals in your life don’t do a good job of bringing some much-needed solace into it, or they can’t even be positive when they’re in your presence, don’t feel bad about distancing yourself from such negativity.

Do Things That Genuinely Make You Feel Good

If you want to stay in your pajamas and watch Disney movies all Saturday afternoon, why not? If you want to paint your nails while listening to the newest Frank Ocean album, go right ahead. If you just want to sleep and restore your system so you can be your best self, make it a priority. Do whatever truly brings you joy so that no matter what, you can find your own little slice of happiness during hectic times.

Treat Yourself to Some Personal Perk

Treat yourself to a massage, some new shoes, an ice cream cone — some kind of treat to celebrate making it through another week. Reward yourself for being the awesome person you are.

Run for Your Life

I know that exercising sounds so cliché and lame, but the endorphins you can release after a good workout will bring about positive feelings and provide you with a reprieve from…well, the bullsh-t. Running six miles always sounds like an overwhelming task for me, but when I finish, I literally feel at my peak on any day.

Talk to Yourself

Talk to yourself, as in, check in with yourself. If something feels off, address it. If you’re feeling exhausted, make sure you carve out time to rest at some point in the day or throughout the weekend. Feeling more stressed than usual at work? Take advantage of those vacation days you let go to waste last year and go on a trip — even if it’s just a trip to your couch for a few days. Take note of how you’re faring and do what it takes to keep yourself from feeling tapped out.

Log Off

Give yourself a break from the sensory overload that is social media. Log off and learn how to enjoy the moment. Disconnect from the foolishness for a day, or a few days, as it can definitely put your mind at ease.

Serious Question: Has A Toxic Work Environment Ever Made You Sick?

September 23rd, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Toxic Work Environments

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Over the past couple of weeks, my best friend has been struggling to maintain a clear mental space when she goes to work. Every time she enters the doors of the non-profit, she begins to question if she belongs in the field because her supervisor (and coworkers) make her life a living hell.

Aside from referring to various ethnicities of color as “gross,” her coworkers taunt her to her face, ignore her when she has work-related questions, and after company events, her supervisor usually spends time cursing at the entire staff if something wasn’t done correctly.

Being exposed to this type of behavior has made my best friend develop a severe case of anxiety and has left her feeling exhausted. And while some friends tell her told her to look for new work because the vitality of her mental health is a priority, others have said it’s not the time to leave the company because it may affect the trajectory of her career. But what if your job’s Human Resources department has their own opinion about how your boss or coworkers treat you. Something along the lines of: “You just need to play the game, or else maybe you do not belong here.'”

That was Apple’s HR response to Hannah who was interviewed by MIC about Apple’s alleged hostile environment. Hannah filed a complaint with HR after a male employee sexually harassed her: “Hannah reported him to human resources and was told it had been addressed, but no one from HR would tell her what, specifically, they had done to resolve her issue,” MIC reports. “I felt like they were brushing me aside. They would ignore me if I saw them in the hallway. It was a very toxic environment,” Hannah shared. After submitting what she thought was an anonymous peer review on the male coworker, Hannah learned that he found out about her review and inevitably began to treat her more negatively. A few weeks after the peer review was submitted, Hannah’s harasser was promoted.

Other Apple employees complained about their mental and overall health being compromised once they began their careers at the tech cooperation.

Ben told MIC that he had a clean bill of mental health but after working at the company’s call center for over ten years, he now has a phobia of telephones. Ben even tried to commit suicide twice because of the work environment. “ Every time I’ve been in the hospital and mental ward, there has been another Apple employee with me. And I’ve been there three times,” he told MIC. Because of his multiple suicide attempts, his coworkers and even managers coined the term “Ben-ing out” to describe someone who appears to be suffering from mental health issues. Because of the banter surrounding such a serious issue, Ben told MIC that no one else would come forward with their own issues because it’s been stigmatized in the office. These issues haven’t been publicized in the press because Ben says Apple is held in the same high regard as the Disney franchise or even the Catholic Church.

Despite the recent press Apple and other tech companies have received for their toxic working environments, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an email to employees that he would not “stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain.” Some Apple employees argue this sentiment from Cook has yet to be applied in their own offices.

Has a work environment ever made you physically or mentally ill?

To receive mental health help, visit MentalHealth.Gov.

In Protest Of Black Death: Why I Can’t Watch The First 48 Again

September 21st, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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A&E

A&E

As I stared at the young man’s body, legs splayed, the only things sticking out from underneath the yellow cloth placed over him, I sensed a feeling I hadn’t been witness to in some time — a gut-wrenching discomfort. And just like that, mood turned upside down, I turned off the television and decided to go for a run.

Sprinting through Prospect Park, acknowledging the Black men and women I saw running, full of and enjoying life, I thought about the body I had just seen on my TV screen nearly an hour earlier. “I can’t watch The First 48 ever again,” I said to myself as a sense of sadness moved through me. It didn’t come over me because I was sad to miss out on the show. Instead, I felt this way because it made me think of all the young people, mostly Black, whose bodies I’d seen after breathing their last breath on the show. Human being I never really thought twice about before. I had become desensitized to all the Black death I was seeing. In the park, surrounded by life, the reality of that conclusion made me feel terrible.

I have been watching The First 48 since college, and was so intrigued by the cases that I could breeze through marathons. It was so good to me that I had to tell someone else, so I passed it on to my mom. She’s an Investigation Discovery (ID) channel fanatic and studied criminal justice in school. She liked it, for a little while. Then she told me, maybe less than a year into watching, that she had had enough.

“I don’t watch that anymore,” she said as I inquired about new episodes. “I don’t like that they don’t really cover the bodies. Those were real people. I’m not comfortable seeing so many Black people like that, young people especially.”

I kept watching. I even put my fiancé on. And there we would sit on Saturday nights, watching The First 48 and maybe taking a break from a marathon to see the latest Lockup episode before flipping back. I went from Black death to Black incarceration like it was nothing.

I could recount stories of girlfriends stabbing their boyfriends after a fight and the perpetrator not knowing they actually died. Stepsons accidentally shooting their stepfathers. Men caught on camera running through the streets with machine guns right before a retaliatory killing. Angry ex-boyfriends murdering the mother of their child in front of the kid. I could recount all these episodes without feeling anything. I just really enjoyed following the cases, trying to understand the girlfriends who would hide murderous boyfriends, attempting to feel something for teenagers who got caught up with the wrong crowds.

But on that Monday night, I had enough. As I looked at yet another young Black man dead on the street, something jumped within me. I thought about what my mom said and felt sick. Those were real people.

And I also considered my hypocrisy. I didn’t want to watch the graphic videos of men being gunned down by police, like Terence Crutcher, but wouldn’t bat an eye at the body of a teen who barely got to live, laying in a pool of blood, as though his death wasn’t real because it was on a TV show.

I considered the fact that all I could do was shake my head but not feel pain every week I would find out a few people were killed, and dozens of others were shot during the weekend that had just passed in my beloved Chicago.

I considered the fact that maybe someone heard about my brother’s death years ago and likely felt the same sense of detachment, despite the fact that he was deeply loved and is still sorely missed.

I considered the fact that I pick and choose when I want to be hurt by such losses of life, despite the fact that they all have an impact on my psyche. Enough of an impact to make me flee from social media instead of facing the reality and discomfort of what people are trying to show me: continued injustice.

More than anything, I considered the fact that through all of the images that have been broadcast in media and on social media, I became numb to the death of my own people. I could look at some death as a form of entertainment and the rest as a cruel reality that I realized I wasn’t getting enraged enough about, but rather, would run from. Maybe that was my way of trying to sustain my mind. Unbeknownst to me, I couldn’t run from it. That’s what drove that feeling within the pit of my stomach when I was standing in front of the TV. It was my heart finally feeling the effects of all the things I had been seeing and absorbing over the years.

I’m sure it sounds petty, me saying that I’m done with a simple TV show. However, to me, it’s my own mild form of protest. I can’t stop these crimes from happening — the ones on reality TV or the ones in reality. But I can choose not to be a spectator to, and in turn, a supporter of Black death, as though there’s nothing wrong with it. Because as mama said, those were real people, too. And all of them deserved better.

There is Nothing Amusing About Malachi Love-Robinson Playing Doctor

September 12th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Who the hell – besides the Amish and members of a deeply disturbed religious cult – names their kid “Malachi” in 2016?

I mean, have we not all seen Children of the Corn? Have we not learned our lesson from He Who Walks Behind the Rows?

You might as well name the kid Adolf Hitler…

And that was my initial reaction the first time I heard the story of Malachi Love-Robinson, the then 17-year-old kid who was arrested earlier this year for posing as a doctor and opening a fake medical clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Over the weekend the Black Doogie Howser-wannabe was arrested again. This time around, he is accused of identity theft after attempting to purchase a luxury car at a Virginia-based Jaguar dealership.

Well, at least the kid has good taste.

Anyway, the media as well as social media is once again having a good laugh at this kid’s shenanigans.

But honestly there is nothing entertaining or funny about what Love-Robinson is doing.

In fact, I feel like this kid is in serious danger and in need of real help. And it’s not just because he has a creepy first name.

Love-Robinson might be very smart and clever, but he is also a kid who clearly lacks adequate supervision.

According to published reports, Love-Robinson is currently being treated for an undisclosed mental illness. In short, doctors and his attorney believe there is something abnormal about him, but they don’t know what exactly.

Complicating the matter even further is his family who also appears to be in denial, or at the least confused, about Love-Robinson’s mental health.

When asked back in February if the family had at all expressed any concerned over their teen’s plans to open a fake medical clinic, his grandfather William McKenzie told reporters:

The thing is that it was a slight concern with his age and the way that he was moving around. I was just praying that he was doing what was right.”

This is not the first time Love-Robinson’s family choose faith over actual help. As reported by Time Magazine, Mckenzie also told reporters his grandson had Lupus as a child and almost died. And as he explains:

There were a number of times we thought we were going to lose him, he was so sick. God has really protected him and brought him a long way. He goes out and he constantly tries to prove himself that he can and he will succeed. He’s too smart for his own good. He’s too, too smart.”

Mmkay…

It should be noted that Love-Robinson’s smarts were used to commit crimes, mostly against elderly women.

And in addition to facing time in prison for practicing medicine without a license, Love-Robinson is also looking at felony grand theft and forgery charges for allegedly bilking an 86-year-old former “patient”named Ann Morrison out of thousands.

As reported by West Palm Beach’s WPBF News:

“Investigators said Love-Robinson went to Morrison’s home several times, dressed in a lab coat and wearing a stethoscope, and gave her physical examinations. They said he also sold her thousands of dollars of over-the-counter vitamins.

Officials said Love-Robinson raised the price of his house call on each visit.

Morrison told detectives she noticed funds were missing from her bank account, and upon checking, found that Love-Robinson had forged her name on three checks.

Investigators said he also gained access to her bank account and withdrew money to pay off his car and credit cards. They said the total taken was close to $40,000.”

According to the report, he also offered to perform a Pap smear on Morrison, but she declined.

And prior to opening a fake clinic and allegedly stealing money from (and “examining”) Ms. Morrison, Love-Robinson was arrested for pretending to be a doctor at a Florida OB/GYN office.

In his latest arrest, he is accused of forging the signature of another elderly woman on a loan for a new Jag.

Now, I’m not saying that the kid needs prison time. Truthfully, I think incarceration would only make him worse.

But clearly this kid needs help. If not for his own sake then for the sake and security of all the little old Black grandmamas and aunties who might cross paths with the good Doc someday.

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and the reigning queen of unpopular opinions. She is also from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.

Five Of The Biggest Misconceptions About Therapy

September 6th, 2016 - By Tanay Hudson
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Shutterstock

When I tell people I’m a therapist I get a variety of reactions. Some people tell me they don’t know how I have the patience to listen to other’s problems, while some express uninformed and incorrect views about the profession. No, I don’t have a couch in my office and no I don’t just tell people to take deep breaths when they are angry. Mental health is one of the most misunderstood fields, which leads to many people living their daily lives with undiagnosed mental illnesses. Research shows that Black women are more likely to suffer from depression and Black men are at a greater risk for suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience mental illnesses than the rest of the population. With diagnoses like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder being so prevalent in the Black community, therapy can help more than it can hurt, but stigmas keep people from facing their issues. Here are five of the biggest misconceptions about psychotherapy.

People of color don’t go to therapy

When someone told me that therapy was a “white people thing” I was appalled and disappointed. As an African-American therapist who treats people of color predominately, not only was it an insensitive statement but an enlightening one. It helped me see how people of color shun the idea of seeking mental health treatment. People of color are very resilient and deal with adversity on their own terms, but there are benefits to having someone to speak to that is unbiased, non-judgmental, encouraging, keeps your business private and empowers you when you feel like giving up.

Therapists tell you how to run your life

One of the biggest myths about therapy is that the therapist is there to tell you what to do. Therapists help clients come to a conclusion about what they want to do or how they want to handle a situation. We can’t tell you what to do with your life. It’s all about intrinsic motivation, resolving ambivalence, raising awareness and putting things into perspective. We use our interventions to help you figure out what’s best for you. So frankly, the client is doing most of the work. The therapist is just the agent of change.

Therapists haven’t learned from experience, only books

Many clinicians have been through their own trials and tribulations, but for some reason many clients believe otherwise. I’ve been told that I probably come from a predominately white neighborhood or that my childhood was stress-free, which are assumptions that are totally wrong. My past issues are exactly what landed me in my position. My education gave me the scholarly foundation and credentials needed to access and treat the people that I can relate to.

Therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists are the same thing

Folks always get my credentials or my role confused. I’ve been called a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, everything except what I am. As a clinical social worker I do assessments, diagnoses and psychotherapy. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who does psychiatric evaluations to see if there is a need for medication. Psychologists can also do therapy, but they are qualified to administer certain tests and assessments that explore cognitive and intellectual abilities as well.

All you have to do is show up to your session every week

Just because a client is consistently coming every week doesn’t mean that change is automatically going to happen. The client has to be ready to open up and address any issues they have. They have to be ready to implement some change, otherwise there will be no progress. Sometimes clients feel like nothing has gotten better since attending therapy and are quick to point the finger at the clinician. Yet they rarely stop and ask themselves what have they done to help the therapeutic process besides showing up. The client has to be ready and willing to put some effort into changing things about themselves and their life.

 

9 Tips For A Successful Social Media Cleanse

September 2nd, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: Shutterstock.com

Image Source: Shutterstock.com

As wonderful as social media can be, there are times when you simply need to step away from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr and the like. Why? Well, there are many reasons. Time, being one of them. You might plan on spending a few minutes on Facebook and suddenly, an hour later, you’re wondering where the time went. Time you could have spent doing a host of things. Time you should have spent doing a host of things. Then there’s the trolls. Racists, haters, know-it-alls, or some form of all three. Reading through your timelines and feeds can leave you feeling tired, sad, burned out or stressed. And yet, seemingly, you can’t look away.

That’s where you’re wrong. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you just might be in need of a social media cleanse. If you need a little help pulling your break off, we’ve got you covered with some helpful reminders and tips.

Happy People: 8 Simple Secrets They Know Best

August 23rd, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Corbis

Corbis

Courtesy of United Healthcare.

Do you know people who always seem bright and cheery?

We keep hearing that R. Kelly song in our heads…

So what’s their secret? Research shows that certain simple habits often play a role in happiness. Here are eight ways to cultivate more of it in your life.

Kerry Washington Needed A Break From Social Media After She Started Comparing Her Life To Others

August 5th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Splash News

Splash News

Despite living what we assume is the good life, making millions and stunting on red carpets, celebrities are everyday people. And just like the rest of us, some of the biggest stars can get overwhelmed by social media and start comparing what they do or don’t have going on with the trappings of others. Even Kerry Washington found herself struggling with this. But as she carries her second child and wanted to be as healthy as possible in every way, she revealed that she decided to log off of social media for a little bit recently.

As the Scandal star shared in her new interview with InStyle about taking a break from her three million Instagram followers and four million Twitter followers, it all became a little bit too much.

“I started to feel overwhelmed, like there was too much noise,” she said. “I felt like I had to get back to who Kerry really is.”

And Kerry said that she dealt with the same less than pleasant feelings many of us have when we see people looking as though they’re living the best life while we question what’s going on with our own. As she described it, “That thing that happens in social media where you’re comparing your day or your life or your food or your mood or your kids to somebody else’s. I felt like I needed to create a little more stillness around me.”

And with her current pregnancy, she said she doesn’t have time for anything but stillness and positivity.

“There’s something about pregnancy,” she said, “that willingness to take up more space in the world—that is liberating.”

If there were ever a time to run in the opposite direction of all things stressful, it would definitely be when you’re expecting. But the good news is that Washington must be feeling much more still and centered because she has returned to social media as of late to promote and post a few things here and there. That includes the Confirmation DVD, her OPI nail polish collection and her InStyle cover. But as someone currently on a social media break for the last month, I can totally relate to the need to log off sometimes. How about you?

I’m Literally Sick And Tired Of You: For The Sake Of Your Mental, Physical Health, You Need To Cut People Off

August 5th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shutterstock

I’ve always been one to say that “Life is too short” to hold grudges, especially ones towards those close to you. I’ve believed, through my faith, that forgiving people for the things they do does more for me than it does for them. Who has the time or energy to hold on to all that anger? I still believe that.

But I also have come to the conclusion that I can forgive you and not want anything to do with you. And that anything isn’t said with rage or animosity behind it, but rather, with my mental health in mind.

In the effort to be diplomatic and to appear less than petty, I’ve given a certain individual a handful of chances to get right after disrespectful comments have been made over the years about everything from my hair to my attempts to go out of my way for this person during important life events. Not to mention that their energy is often off — when it isn’t, that’s a good day.

I’ve hoped for change, and each time, been disappointed by more of the same. More of the unreliability, more of the disrespect, more of the bullsh-t. Recently, I decided that I can’t take it anymore. It’s nice to want to move forward and embrace people, but it sucks when you keep providing opportunities for them to come back into your life, only for them to continue to hurt your feelings. To continue to disregard your time, money and energy. To continue to be self-absorbed and really adding nothing of value to your life but rather, take, take and take. Lord knows I’s tired.

But when I bring my feelings up to the people in my life who tend to play the moral compass role, like my mother or my future husband, I’m told that I’m better off letting my dismay go. Why? Because it was my fault for depending on people. If I learn not to do so, I’ll have less chances to end up disappointed. I guess, mom.

Oh, and the other suggestion was that “You have to talk it out.” When I asked why, I wasn’t really given the “Message!” moment I was hoping for: “You just need to, babe.”

But do I?

I don’t think so. What I do think is that in an attempt to not have what we believe will be drama by ending a relationship, we continue to deal with actualized drama every time that person comes around. It’s exhausting. We continue to be subjected to their moods, their comments, their selfishness and all the other toxic personality characteristics that leave us drained when we finally remove ourselves from their presence. It’s almost like volunteering yourself to be denigrated time and time again and actually believing that you’ll come out of it unscathed each time. Yeah, right.

Not to mention, according to a study, toxic people in your life, from friends to romantic interests, can literally make you sick. In a UCLA study from earlier this year, researchers found that stressful relationships can increase the levels of protein in your body that can cause inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues down the line. When asked to explain such results, Daniel Yadager, M.D. told the New York CBS affiliate that while you might eat healthy and exercise to have optimal health, it’s also important to have good relationships for your overall wellness.

“This is also part of leading a healthy lifestyle, is to make sure you’re around people who are nurturing and supportive.”

And if you leave your friend or loved one feeling more stressed than relaxed, chances are, they are going to make you ill down the line. As I prepare for a new chapter in my life (marriage), I don’t want to take people with me into that stage who, in my heart, I genuinely feel don’t wish me well. People who really couldn’t be concerned with my feelings. And no, I don’t have an exit strategy that will end things on good terms. I’m just separating myself and looking at it as going on sick leave: I’m sick and tired of your a–.

So while I’m all for salvaging the relationships that mean a lot to you and that have seen you through many hills and valleys in your life, those who’ve dragged you through some of those valleys or only come around during the hilly times may need to be reevaluated. As much as I would like to stay close with every person who has played a role in the stages of my youth and adulthood, it’s not worth it if I’m the only one always making the positive effort to ensure that happens, and the one regretting that I did each and every time.

 

Lisa Nicole Carson Talks Being Blackballed In Hollywood After Bipolar Diagnosis

August 2nd, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Lisa Nicole Carson

Centric

Lisa Nicole Carson was, undeniably, one of the “it” actresses of the 1990s. No matter the movie or television show, Carson’s bright smile and curl fro always made an impression as she captivated viewers with witty one-liners. However, as the industry transitioned into the next Millennium, fans saw less and less of Carson, leaving many to assume that she traded in fame for a quiet life. Unfortunately, that was not the case; Carson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and since then the mental illness has affected her ability to work.

Until now.

Deciding to heal, recover and reclaim her love for acting, Carson has chosen to share her story on Centric’s BEING, a documentary series where lauded figures in Hollywood share the poignant lessons they’ve learned as they rode fame’s wheel of fortune.

Premiering, Saturday, August 6 at 7 pm EST, BEING: Lisa Nicole Carson will give fans insight on how the actress became a mainstream icon in such a short period of time and the stigma and rejection she faced when news of her mental illness broke. Check out the preview below.