May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Here Are My MUST-KNOW Questions Answered By Therapists

I once read that by the year 2020 depression would be the leading cause of disease and death. Ooo that scared me.

In an age of “we can’t put the phone down” I’ve realized that I now live in this bubble that didn’t exist in my childhood. I thrive on connecting with other people. We were created to be in touch with fellow human beings but unfortunately, we spend more time on electronics than anything else and it is simply no way that this is [among other things] healthy for our brains. According to healthypeople.gov,

“Mental health is a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in:     

  • Productive activities (key word: productive)
  • Fulfilling relationships with other people; and
  • The ability to adapt to change and to cope with challenges.”

 STOP and ask yourself: On a scale of 1-10. How good is my state of mind today? In other words, when you are mentally healthy you are in the best state of mind that allows you to “live your best life”.

 

The website also goes on to say how mental health is not a mental illness (a diagnosed condition)-nor is it a mental disorder. So let’s keep that in mind. There are major differences between the three.

Mental health is simply the ability to keep your mind stayed on the right and positives things in life-come what may!

I personally believe that there are several components to maintaining this state of mind.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I wanted to connect my readers with resources on the subject…

Check out my interviews below with therapists DeAvila Sade, LCSW, LSSW; Kirstie Hudnall, LPC, NCC; and mother-daughter mental health advocates Bella Perri…

I was able to get the scoop on how to stay mentally fit, as well as looking out for those around you who you love! This is some GOOD stuff ya’ll! Get comfortable and grab your favorite snack.

Karisma Ray [KR]: Check on your strong friends is quote we hear often. What is your take on how can ask about mental health without seeming so intrusive?  

DeAvila:  When I hear the phrase “check on your strong friends,” I know I have personally felt that people fail to check on people who “look” like they have it all together. It is not about being intrusive or nosey, but more so that you are letting that friend know that you are there for them. Opening up that doorway to healthy communication definitely aids in helping others who struggle with mental health. You are letting that person know, “I see you and I am here for you in whatever capacity you need me.” Do not try to solve the problem or save them, but let them know I’ll take this walk with you. You are not alone. This method will keep you from being burned out from your friend’s issues as well.

Kirstie: Just a quick text or phone call reminding your friend that you love them, you support them, you are here for them, that takes no time. If you see or believe that your friend is going through a difficult time, a text like that can make such a difference. But it’s important to remember that just cause you reach out does not mean your friend has to tell you what’s going on.

Bella Perri: As a parent [Simply check on] The eldest, the athlete, the one with a good job, stays out of trouble, makes good grades, is helpful, reliable, independent, self-sufficient, driven, gifted, successful, multi-functional, trustworthy, brave, loyal, ever-present – – – they STILL are not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

 

KR: What are the tools we can use daily or habits to follow in order to keep our minds healthy? What do you use?

DeAvila: Self-care is a huge topic right now. My own personal self-care habits include mental health days, social media diets, a sleep hygiene routine, and healthy boundaries with people. Saying “No” is a huge part of my self-care routine because I cannot be everything to everyone and sometimes I truly have to put myself first. I work in a field that demands a lot from me emotionally and mentally. If I’m running empty, then I cannot be a great therapist. You cannot pour from an empty well.

Kirsten: We all have coping skills, some are healthy and others are unhealthy. It’s important to develop positive, appropriate, and legal coping skills to help us and our mental health, like working out, disconnecting from social media, take a walk or coloring. Personally, I believe it’s important for us to disconnect every day from our cell phones and others to allow us to regroup and just spend quality time with ourselves doing something we love.

I personally enjoy the outdoors when clearing my mind…

 

KR: What are signs it might be important to see a therapist vs just talking to a friend, family, or spouse? 

DeAvila: Although friends and family are helpful when it comes to some advice, they can only hold so much of your issues. A therapist is trained to actively help you process any traumas and sift through the emotions that come with it. Some signs you may need to see a therapist include, but are not limited to past physical/sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, low self-esteem, poor relationships with people, easily angered, etc.

I got married at 18 and was divorced by 20. I witnessed domestic violence via my parents as well as their divorce…becoming a therapist was truly the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my family.

 

 

KR: Why have you decided to dedicate your life to serving others in this way? 

Bella Perri: What started as a way for me (LaKesha) to spend more time with my daughter (Manique) – turned into me slaying the biggest dragon of my life! You see, I’ve suffered in silence from depression for over 20 years (at least) – and while most of my silence was rooted in the fact that I didn’t know, once I did know, my silence continued out of shame, guilt even, for “letting” myself get sick in the first place.

Other reservations, such as fear of people (family) not understanding and/ or treating me differently, also played a part. It was when I saw my daughter, the beauty I was raising, in this same altered, anonymous (mental) state, that I realized that what I was doing to myself, I was slowly doing to her…

I began to knock around ideas, moving to & fro within my spirit – researching, journaling, wandering into every YouTube channel, Facebook post, podcast, article, blog, book, workshop – anything I could squander on mental health treatment and recovery.

 

Kirstie: This is really my calling and my passion. I always knew I wanted to be a therapist. I went to therapy as a child when my mom and stepdad divorced and that helped me a lot. I knew from a young age how important and valuable that experience was. As I got older, I saw the stigma around therapy and Black people not wanting to go to therapy. I thought that if I was in the chair being able to provide therapy with my knowledge of the field and understanding of the African American experience and culture that it could make others comfortable and start the healing that is needed. So I’m here to really show that therapy isn’t (just) for white people, we all need therapy at some point and who better to open up to than someone who is more familiar with your culture.

 

KR: Is there a particular demographic (age, location, gender, lifestyle, socioeconomic status) that is more at risk for not being as “mentally healthy” How can they combat this?

Kirstie: Everyone. Mental illness does not discriminate. To combat this, seek a therapist.

Want to do a mental health test? Check out this mental health screener below:

https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools

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Happy Mental Health Awareness Month, yall!

Please share the article with your family and friends. Thanks for reading!

Oh yea, be sure to check out and follow my featured guests they have so much to offer to your IG timeline! Much love and light to them!

@askdeavilasade

@iambellaperri

@astoldbykirstie

 

 

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