::: Photo By Rich Greene :::
Mental health holds a significant place in our overall wellbeing, encompassing social, psychological, and emotional aspects of our lives. For the Black community, addressing mental health has become an increasingly vital topic. While the Black experience in America is diverse, there are shared cultural factors that contribute to mental well-being.
Familial connections, community bonds, expressions through spirituality and music, and religious networks are integral parts of the shared cultural experience that empower African-Americans and enhance their mental wellness. When practiced in a healthy way, these cultural institutions offer tremendous benefits.
However, systemic barriers such as racism, mass incarceration, miseducation, discrimination, and social inequities persist for Black individuals, creating immense stress and trauma. Accessing appropriate care and treatment for mental health challenges is often hindered within the Black community. Recent years have brought forth a series of significant events – a global pandemic, racial trauma, and ongoing fights for social justice – thrusting mental health to the forefront of conversations. Black individuals nationwide have gained a deeper understanding of their mental and emotional wellbeing,
leading to a collective effort towards healing.
At the forefront of this mental health revolution stands psychotherapist Dr. Spirit, who combines her vibrant and charismatic personality with informative and engaging methods of healing. With almost 20 years of experience, Dr. Spirit has been providing answers to life’s toughest questions, shifting the narrative around love, life, and relationships. Dr. Spirit’s down-to-earth approach promotes empathy, understanding, and breaks down the stigma often associated with mental and emotional wellness. Her insightful conversations offer building blocks for her audience to incorporate into their lives, empowering them on their journey towards healing.
South Atlanta Magazine had the privilege of engaging in an enlightening conversation with Dr. Spirit, delving deep into her commitment and gift of healing others. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and articulating one’s feelings, enabling individuals to express themselves with clarity and purpose.
Through her work, Dr. Spirit is creating a transformative space where mental health is prioritized, discussed, and embraced within the Black community. Her mission to empower individuals to address their mental well-being is bringing hope and healing to countless lives. Join us as we embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment with Dr. Spirit, as she guides us towards a path of emotional wellness and resilience.
“Oftentimes we are very disconnected from our feelings and we do so as a function for survival. So when I ask people how are you feeling, they will say ‘Oh I’m good, I’m fine’ – good is not a feeling, fine is not a feeling. So I encourage them to answer more intentionally when I ask, ‘What are you feeling and why are you feeling it?’” Spirit also spoke of the stigmatization of mental wellness advocacy within the Black community and why the Black community should be more open to seeking psychiatric help. “The socialization and the retelling of the Black experience has been revised, rewritten, and outright lied about,” she said. “My responsibility is to bring awareness and to help connect the dots on why certain things happen and where they stem from.”
SAM: What led you into becoming a professional in the mental health space?
Spirit: I think this profession chose me, early on in life I never looked at being a therapist as a career. In ways my mother helped point it out to me as, I was matriculating through college. The irony is when I told her I wanted to become a therapist, my mother said ‘Of course, you have been doing this your whole life.’”
SAM: What advice and insight do you have for Black women who across all socioeconomic realms suffer from burnout?
Spirit: “There is a lack of balance amongst Black women where we try to do it all and make it look effortless. The challenging part is deciding what is most important and not overwhelming ourselves for taking on more than what we
have capacity for. Whether it be with our scheduling or spending, we are burning the candle on both ends, thrusting all of the things we need and want into a small space of time. The Black superwoman syndrome is a very real thing, where we think we always have to be on go, all of the time, for all people. More times than not we are not showing up for ourselves in the ways that we need.”
SAM: How would you address the stigma that Black men carry of not wanting to seek therapy?
Spirit: There are several reasons why Black men are hesitant to seek therapy. Only 4% of mental health clinicians are Black and Black women outnumber Black male therapists 6:1. So when you talk about the absence of Black men in this space, I can connect with a Black male client via our melanin, but there are gender dynamics that a Black male client may feel more comfortable talking to another man about. Black men have long been conditioned to be the pillars of society and civilization. Their identity often revolves around their manhood, making it uncomfortable for them to discuss vulnerability, heartbreak, or victimization.
Seeking professional psychiatric help can be challenging, especially when it involves reaching out to someone who may not look like them or fully understand their perspective. However, the conversation around mental health is evolving. The focus has shifted from pathology to awareness and self-care. People are embracing the importance of mental and emotional wellness, openly discussing their personal narratives, and breaking down the stigma associated with seeking help.
In the Black community, prioritizing mental health is not a sign of weakness but an act of strength. The rich history of social change within the community highlights the importance of taking care of one’s mental well-being. Recognizing that mental health is crucial to overall health, more individuals are taking the necessary steps to achieve wholeness.
At the forefront of this mental health movement stands Dr. Spirit. With her unwavering commitment to the cause, she is empowering Black men to prioritize their mental well-being. Dr. Spirit understands the unique challenges faced by Black men and is leading the way in providing the support and guidance they need.
Through her work, Dr. Spirit is breaking barriers and reshaping the narrative around mental health in the Black community. By creating a safe space for discussion and healing, she is equipping Black men with the tools to navigate their mental health journeys.
Join Dr. Spirit on the frontlines of the mental health movement as she inspires and empowers Black men to embrace their mental well-being. Together, we can foster a community that values and supports the holistic health of every individual.