Compositions & Coffee Presents: "Creative Soul Digest"
Mindful Movement Monday
Good Morning and Happy Monday family. I hope you had a wonderful relaxing weekend and if you didn’t don’t worry I got you because this week is all about health…mental health. Look ya’ll don’t need me to break it down I can just say 2020 and I know you get it. However, for us as a people it goes beyond that to the 17th and 18th century, let’s be honest. We have been through so much trauma that mental health has plagued us for a long time. Unfortunately, most of it has continued to persist without any acknowledgment and treatment. Within the black community mental health has taken such a back burner and ultimately has been seen as a sign of weakness. BUT WHY?! Our people have undergone institutional betrayal and life long trauma mental health should be at the CORE of how we heal and apart of our reperation. Anyway I can go on and on (and I will) but let’s first start with breaking things down and looking deeply into the forms of mental health. Certain one's we should ESPECIALLY monitor this year.
13.4% of the US population identifies as Black or African American, of those, 16% reported having mental illness in the past year which is over 7 million people.
According to the most recent Census data, 55% of all Black and African Americans lived in the South, 18% lived in the Midwest, 17% in the Northeast, and 10% in the West.
24% of Black and African American people have a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2017.
More than 1 in 5 Black and African American people in the US lived in poverty as of 2018.
Women are the heads of household in roughly 30% of Black and African American homes, compared to 9% of white homes.
Black and African American people living below poverty are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over 2x the poverty level.
Adult Blacks and African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.
Blacks and African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide at all ages. However, Black and African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than white teenagers 9.8% vs. 6.1%.
Serious mental illness rose among all ages of Black and African American people between 2008 and 2018.
Binge drinking, smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), illicit drug use and prescription pain reliever misuse are more frequent among Black and African American adults with mental illnesses.
And that’s just some of the facts my friends. Now let’s think about the reason.
The Black and African American experience has continued to be plagued by trauma and violence which impacts the emotional and mental health of youth and adults. The historical dehumanization, oppression, and violence in our communities has evolved into present day racism in all forms; structural, institutional, and individual. This ultimately cultivates mistrust which has led to inadequate access to and delivery of care in the healthcare industry. Dealing with layers of trauma on top of the new mass trauma associated with COVID-19 and police brutality adds layers of complexity for people to responsibly manage. Combine all of that with current economical struggles during COVID, relationships, and day-to-day parenting and you have even more strain and stress. As we face something we’ve never anticipated in this lifetime, it’s important to understand the symptoms and signs so we can get the help we, as well as our families, need.
Signs and Symptoms
Clinical depression is more than just common ‘ups and downs’. The cycle of joy, pain, happiness, and sorrow are all a part of life but when the sorrow remains or keeps coming back it should be assessed. Clinical depression last for more than a few weeks and can affect how you navigate day-to-day life. The big thing to note about clinical depression is that it’s a 'whole body' illness meaning it can affect your mood, thoughts, body, and behavior. Depression robs people of joy found in their daily life and can even lead to suicide. Here are a list of symptoms according to Mental Health America:
· Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, or excessive crying
· Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
· Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain
· Irritability, restlessness
· Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
· Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning waking
· Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
· Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Please keep in mind these are some symptoms and people make experience them differently, intermittently, and you may not present with every symptom. The key take away is if IT DOESN’T FEEL GOOD OR RIGHT it’s okay to ask your doctor and get help.
Anxiety has hit everyone in some form or fashion this year, however, when it persists and begins to impede on your day to day and health it's time to ask your doctor and not just WEBMD it. Anxiety is excessive nervousness, worry, and fear. There are several type of anxiety disorders: general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia-related disorders. The symptoms for reach are very similar but there are minor differences so it's important to be evaluated by a therapist to determine treatment. Here are the list for symptoms:
· Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
· Being easily fatigued
· Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
· Being irritable
· Having muscle tension
· Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
· Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
· Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heartrate
· Trembling or shaking
· Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
· Feelings of impending doom
· Feelings of being out of control
· May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
· Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
· Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
· Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety
This extensive list is why you should not try to figure it out on your own but instead consult with your physician if you have a few or even a couple of these symptoms. With that note let’s look at some myths about depression and mental illness…
Myths about depression
A common myth about depression is that it is “normal”. The truth is that depression is not a normal part of life for any Black American regardless of age or life situation.
If our people can make it through slavery, we can make it through anything. When a black woman suffers from a mental disorder, the opinion is that she is weak and weakness in black women is intolerable.
You should take your troubles to Jesus, not some stranger/psychiatrist.
The TRUTH is that getting help IS a sign of STRENGTH! People suffering with depression can’t just “snap out of it”. Spiritual support and consultation can be important in the healing process but the care of a qualified mental health professional is essential. The earlier the treatment the more effective it can be.
I also want to make ya’ll are aware of another form of depression that happens to many of us living in different parts of the country each year.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is seen by many folks around the same time the season changes. It’s characterized by periods of feeling sad and not feeling like their usual selves. This “feeling down” as it’s described typically starts when the days get shorter in the fall and winter and people begin to feel better around Spring. Where you begin to see the more clinical depression piece is when this mood change begins to affect how people think, feel, and handle their day-to-day. There are different patterns of SAD such as winter-pattern and summer-pattern but the most common is the one seen during fall and winter months when there’s less sun, which is winter-pattern. SAD is a type of depression and symptoms may last between 4 to 5 months per year. The signs and symptoms are included with those of major depression along with these symptoms:
· Overeating particulary with a craving for carbohydrates
· Weight gain
· Social withdrawal
SAD occurs more often in women than in men and is more common in people living further north where daylight hours are shorter in the winter. Studies have shown that sunlight controls levels of molecules that help maintain normal serotonin levels (a hormone associated with stabilizing your mood and promoting a general sense of happiness and well-being) and those with SAD, regulation does not function properly leading to decreased levels in the winter. Another reason is deficiency in Vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes serotonin activity in the brain and with ample sunlight the body and skin are able to produce copious amounts of Vitamin D and promote serotonin activity. Since there is less daylight in the winter this leads to increased lower levels of vitamin D which hinders serotonin activity. When talking treatment combined with antidepressant medication and psychotherapy it’s often recommended for patients suffering from SAD to take vitamin D and undergo light therapy (I’ll leave a picture below with information). Combination is always best so don’t expect to see results alone or right away. Consult a doctor before trying anything independently.
Pioneers in Black Mental Health
So listen I graduated with my degree in psychology and have always been fascinated with its place in history. However, as ya’ll know they only teach from one side of the history books so I never was taught about black mental health nor the pioneers in black mental health. You know I had to do some digging. As always let me share a little something I’m sure many of you didn’t know about how our people BEEN OUT HERE DOING SOME THANGS…
Solomon Carter Fuller
Dr. Fuller was an African American psychiatrist who made a significant contribution to the study of Alzheimer’s disease. He was the son of a previously enslaved African who bought his freedom. Dr. Fuller graduated from Boston University School of Medicine which at the time was a homeopathic institution. He performed ground breaking research on the physical changes to the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and worked alongside Dr. Alois Alzheimer who ultimately discovered the traits of the disease in 1901.
James P. Comer
Dr. Comer is a child psychiatrist at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. He is known nationally and internationally for his creation of the Comer School for Development Program in 1968. He has focused his career on improving school restructuring and received a prestigious nomination by President Barrack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission of the Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Paul Bertau Cornely
Dr. Cornely's work focused on the development of public health initiatives aimed at reducing healthcare disparities among the chronically underserved. He made significant contributions in the civil rights movement through his effort to desegregate health facilities across the U.S. He also studied tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and scarlet fever. He published over 100 scientific and popular articles and retired Professor Emeritus in the Department of Community Health and Family Practice of Howard University College of Medicine in 1973.
Maxie Clarence Maultsby
Dr. Maultsby was the founder of the psychotherapeutic method, rational behavioral therapy. His contribution includes making emotional self-help a legitimate focus of scientific research and clinical use. The technique of cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling that Dr. Maultsby created is the first comprehensive short term culture and drug-free technique of psychotherapy that produced long term therapeutic results.
Freda C. Lewis-Hall
Dr. Lewis-Hall has held an erray of leadership roles across the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as in academia, medical research, and direct service provision. In 2010 Dr. Lewis-Hall was appointed by the Obama Administration to the inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and in 2012 she was appointed chair of the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board. She earned her B.S. degree from Johns Hopkins University and her medical doctorate from Howard University. Sis is decorated being named one of Savoy’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America in 2012, Woman of the Year by Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2011, 2010 as one of the nation’s 75 Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise Magazine and among the 25 Most Influential African-Americans in health care by Black Health Magazine.
Mamie Phipps Clark
Mamie Phipps Clark was the First African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in psychology from Columbia University. Her groundbreaking research on the impact of race on child development helped end segregation and was influential in desegregation efforts including the Brown vs. Board of Education. He passion for adequate mental health services led her to opening her own agency to provide comprehensive psychological services to the poor, blacks, and other minority children and families. In 1964, Dr. Clark and her husband opened “The Northside Center for Child Development” in Harlem.
Trust there are many many more and, just like last week, some young one’s out there carrying the mantle. With that lastly I want ya’ll to know about the movements surrounding black mental health. Take a look:
Black Mental Health Alliance
Their mission is ‘To develop, promote, and sponsor trusted culturally-relevant educational forums, trainings and referral services that support the health and well-being of Black people and vulnerable communities’.
They are dope ya’ll because they connect black clinicians with patients, they help educate and connect the community with resources, and they provide services to families and children. They are based out of Maryland but have a great database to help connect you with black clinicians all over.
Is a group aimed at removing barriers that black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing. They do this through education, training, advocacy and the creative arts. Yes arts! They are amazing because they are a whole collective group of people such as yoga teachers, lawyers, therapist, and religious leaders, all committed to healing black communities.
Black Men Heal
Their motto Healed Men Heal Men <----THIS
So my brotha’s, our BROTHA’S, listen this was created as that safe space where men can gather and release in order to heal and come together to continue to fight. I love LOVE THEM because they are here for US for YOU and it starts with removing the stigma which is there goal. Next comes pairing you with someone THAT GETS IT! Lastly, but most importantly for our wallets they are affordable and their goal is to eventually eliminate cost for access to health. Keep your eye on them they are doing big things. Please refer a loved one in need as well because these people are amazing.
They are dope! They have a magazine, podcast, blog, and keep you up to date on relevant current information. They also have great resources but my favorite feature is the section for parents and book reviews. They have a section called Field Notes and I love the stories from Anxiety While Adulting. You MUST check that out.
Therapy for Black Girls
I mean it’s all said in the title but they have a really nice guide to help you get connected and plugged into the help you need right away. Their Yellow Couch Collective is also a nice place to get together and collaborate with other like-minded sistas. I have also read that it’s a great space for our ‘little sisters’ as well.
Whew okay sooo much covered in this Monday but the main goal, I feel here, is to say:
WE HEAR YOU. WE SEE YOU. WE ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR STRUGGLE. WE SUPPORT YOU.
This is the message I heard loud and clear from every organization I visited and it was a nice exhale where I felt safe so I know you will as well friends. Even if you feel like “my stuff is on point and I got it together” check them out anyway for community and to support their movement. Also if you live in a Northern state please look into SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) just to make sure you stay on top of your vitamins. All love fam I will leave the usual fun stuff for you to check out and under Support Black Businesses will be the links to these amazing organizations. If are in need or know someone who needs help PLEASE do not hesitate to contact these groups or if you have any questions please leave me a comment and I will connect with you. Until tomorrow friends…
Your family at Eclectuals
"Where we mind your mental diet!"
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