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Take time to focus on mental health by Paula Anderson The month of May was recognized as Mental Health Awareness, but the focus on mental health continues every single day. Brandy Flynn, founder and executive director of Breaking the Barriers of Mental Health, hosted her 5th annual Mental Health Brunch on May 26 at the Great Hall Conference Room.

Brandy Flynn

“It is now time for us to have the conversation about mental health. Not only do we need to talk about (it) but we also need to listen and learn about it,” said Flynn.

Flynn started hosting monthly panels with community partners years ago to help increase awareness and exposure about mental health issues. She said, “An opportunity was created and I received a lot of positive feedback and decided to form a nonprofit.” Mental illness is a “touchy subject” and she finds ways to make the topics less intimidating. “Fun activities help to remove the barriers of discussing serious topics,” added Flynn. In the month of July, she hosts a Karaoke Day Party at a local venue. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to advertise their businesses and learn about mental health at the same time. The event is in the planning stages and offers business owners a chance to connect. George Johnson, real estate agent said, “Last year, I supported Brandy’s Karaoke Day Party because I wanted to support a worthy cause and gain exposure for my business.” “I was able to network with a few people and talk to them about real estate.” One of the ways to deal with mental issues is to speak openly about your feelings and emotions. Some people have an issue talking with a therapist, but they will use social media as a platform for expression. Flynn describes an incident where a young lady stated that she wanted to kill herself on Facebook (R) and she intervened. “A post was made on social media from the young lady stating that she no longer wanted to live. While others were saying the cliche statement “ pray about it.” Flynn said, “I decided to pick up the phone and call her. The young lady was crying and yelling about an incident that just happened and started to go into more in-depth issues that she was dealing with. I felt that it was very urgent for the young lady to seek help so she was able to speak to someone in the house to have them (take her) to a psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately the young lady took the pills while the plans were being made, but with quick thinking I was able to call 911 and they arrived in a timely manner. Now this young lady in enjoying life to the fullest.” She also recently spoke to the Memphis Association of Black Journalists (MABJ) about mental health awareness. “Brandy’s presentation was very up-close and personal,” Montee Lopez, president of Memphis Association of Black Journalists said. “In lieu of a slide show presentation, she offered the membership a one-on-one conversation about the importance of taking care of us.” “Mental health is important. So is protecting your peace. So often, journalists forget to do that. We often see things that can’t be unseen, hear things that can’t be unheard.” “Learn to love yourself, keep yourself sane. Learn how and when to take a step back. That job is going to be there with or without you.” Flynn is a graduate of Jackson State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling. She speaks regularly for local organizations. To learn more about her services, please visit her website @ Paula Anderson is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at Photo Credit: Wiley Brown

Brandy flynn breaking the barriers of mental health  
Brandy flynn breaking the barriers of mental health