Mind your Mental - Maintaining Your Mental Health

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Michigan Chronicle

Maintaining Your Mental Health

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aving sound mental health is vitally important to one’s overall health and well-being, but many of us fall short of making it a top priority. More times than not, when compared to our mental health we put much of the focus on our physical health. Now we understand that the mental wellness of the family has just of an impact on our quality of life as does physical wellness. Mental wellness and family support can go hand in hand. When having strong relationships and family support in the mental health recovery process, the loved one is set up for success. The loved one can focus more on their mental health and less on their family problems that could be contributing to their disorder or making it worse.

The Michigan Chronicle’s Mind Yourself: Maintaining Mental Health, will provide information and resources focused on the mental health challenges that affect the whole family. Our goal is to provide a road map to help families give a loved one the proper support and help them navigate through today’s mental health maze. Mind Yourself: Maintaining Mental Health will provide tips and advice on stronger relationships and family support in the mental health recovery of loved ones. The Michigan Chronicle believes that it is critically important that we empower the Black community with critical information. Now more than ever, we must urge our community to do everything possible to establish a strong foundation of family support that can make all the difference in a loved one’s journey to recovery. We look forward to engaging with this topic with you. Stay Positive, Healthy, and Safe!

Hiram E. Jackson Publisher, Michigan Chronicle Chief Executive Officer, Real Times Media

2 Michigan Chronicle | Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health

Roadblocks to

Mental Health


By Megan Kirk

ental Health Awareness continues to be a highly discussed issue coming out of the pandemic. As the coronavirus helped to uncover many disparities in the healthcare system, it has also revealed mental health issues that, for some, were left unchecked. Access to mental health professionals is becoming increasingly difficult with the influx of patients seeking help. However, financial access creates another barrier in the search for mental stability. With rising insurance premiums and the high demand for therapists, counselors and life coaches, the journey to sound mental health is presenting a challenge for some in the Black community. In 2020, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates America spent $225 billion in 2019 alone according to reports from Open Minds Market Intelligence. As the costs continue to rise, so do the diagnosed cases of mental health illnesses. Triggered by pre-existing issues and an insurmountable amount of death, the impacts on mental health can be felt by all, but particularly those in the African American community. With so many stigmas already tied to mental health for African Americans, finding affordable care can seem daunting. With close to 12 percent of Black people in America living with no health insurance, the costs of mental health equate to more than just dollars and cents. “Well, I always say that grief is an essential part of our mental health because it is an emotional response to a loss, change or death. In this pandemic, we are not only grieving loved ones who have passed on due to covid, but the plethora of changes and transitions that has come along with it; social distancing, job loss, virtual learning, fear, anger etc. We’ve all had to readjust our lives and lifestyles since 2020,” says LaToya Latham, a grief coach. In Michigan, the median cost of a therapy session for those uninsured is approximately $90. Those with insurance may have to meet a certain portion through co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, before their insurance policies begin to pay for the services. Mounting cost of mental health can be a deterrent as many are

faced with the financial challenges of everyday life. For African Americans, disparities in healthcare already present challenges on the journey to wellness. However, financial hindrances make the road even more rocky. “I would say that Medicaid has increased their mental health to unlimited visits in a year which is great for the minority population seeking mental health assistance. I have however did my research and learned that a lot of great therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists do not accept state insurance because a small percentage of the middle class and all of the upper class can sustain the cost of private insurance. Also, state insurances pays a lesser amount of what private insurance companies for their reimbursements,” says Latham. While the African American community remains hard-hit in mental health care, Black men tend to suffer at even greater rates. Groomed to be providers void of emotional expression, Black men are at an even greater disadvantage in mental health disparities. Access to therapy options are limited in the female-dominated field leaving many Black men in search of a therapist or counselor who can identify with the unique challenges of being Black and male. “I have a unique situation of my own because I’m an African American male and there’s not a lot of me doing therapy. I stay busy because there’s a lot of people looking for an African American male when this field is heavily dominated by females,” says Jamell Jefferson, licensed professional counselor. “You may have Black females do-

LaToya Latham, grief coach

Jamell Jefferson, licensed professional counselor ing this and then you have Caucasian males or Caucasian females, but there’s such a disparity between having that African American male that somebody can talk to and relate with.” The boom in telehealth has afforded many the opportunity to gain access to the help needed. Formally, many insurance companies did not cover telehealth services, adding another layer to disparities. However, since the pandemic, insurers are covering telehealth, giving many the chance to seek therapy from the comforts of home. “With the shift in Covid, a lot of the insurance companies are paying now for that service where it used to be an option,” says Jefferson. The American Psychiatric Association estimates about 27 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line. As economics continues to be a main factor in keeping African Americans from receiving mental health care,

many therapists and coaches are offering affordable alternatives. “As a counselor, you still have to make a living. With insurance, having access to insurance is one way, but then it’s ‘what are out-of-pocket costs’ because a lot of times, with insurances, you have to meet deductibles before they kick in or you have to meet copays and then each agency or counselor will have a set fee for their hourly for-service rates,” says Jefferson. “Some companies offer a sliding scale to help people meet income issues.” Though some advances have been made in addressing racial and economic barriers, the healthcare industry still has a long way to go in leveling the playing field. “I am a firm believer that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be willing and ready to do the light work. Healing is never the easy part and in order to start that journey, we must be ready to sacrifice comfort. Because covid is possibly here to stay, that word alone could be a trigger for many,” says Latham. “To heal, we must find a way to cope with each trigger we identify. Go to therapy, hire a Grief/Life Coach, allow outsiders who are professionally trained to guide and support you.” For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, the National Alliance on Mental Health is spreading the message of “Together for Mental Health” signifying it will take everyone’s voice to level the playing field for advancing mental health. Access to care, particularly for African Americans in urban areas is essential to the mental stability of Black communities.

Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health | Michigan Chronicle 3

Good Health Includes


Health Michael Garrett, CEO CNS Healthcare

For more than a year now, we’ve received a constant barrage of information relative to our physical well-being, centered on COVID and its impact. While this is certainly justified and needed, there is also another component to that conversation that should not be overlooked: Our mental health. The stress and strain of worrying about ourselves, our families; livelihood and the overall quality of life have all taken a quiet and easily overlooked toll on our mental well-being. Being forced to stay put made us all look closer at our home and work lives; demands and oft ignored issues that slowly but steadily piqued during this down period.

with those of our physical health, as both are needed to ensure the health, happiness and well-being of the person, and our communities at large.

Physical health is imperative to our existence; Mental health is imperative to a quality existence. CNS Healthcare is a leading, private, non-profit provider of comprehensive, integrated behavioral and physical health services and substance use disorder services in Southeast Michigan. With locations in Detroit, Novi, Pontiac, Southfield, and Waterford, CNS employs over 375 dedicated professionals, paraprofessionals and support staff who deliver compassionate care to more than 7,000 adults, youth (age 0 to 17), and their families, annually. Visit www.CNSHealthcare.org

We took a good look at ourselves and each other and realized much of who we are and what we had were not enough to keep us protected from Michael Garrett the ills we seemingly work so hard to avoid. The glaring void was the undiscussed need for mental and behavioral health, and the permission to not be OK. Much of what we considered “normal” was removed or altered; we elevated the effort to include the stigma of asking for and receiving mental health care as one of those things abandoned. Not being OK, is indeed OK as we saw the elimination of the attempt to be perfect. From making sure moms were best equipped with in-home schooling, to employers providing guidance as employees return to in-office work, everyone needed (or needs) some assistance or support to get through life and the days therein. I look forward to the day where mental health information, resources and discussion are on par 4 Michigan Chronicle | Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health


non-profit organizaaon providing behavioral health services to children (0-17) and adults (18+) in Michigan CNS HEALTHCARE’S recent merger with

Northeast Integrated Health offers a broader spectrum of community-based support services including:

- Psychiatry - Group and Individual Therapy - Substance Use Disorder Services - Case Management

Appointments: 877-211-8611 Crisis Line: 800-615-0411

cnshealthcare.org Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health | Michigan Chronicle 5

Mental Health Help for Kids By Megan Kirk Conversations around mental health can be a sensitive topic, especially for children. Parents who suspect their child may be suffering from the woes of a mental health episode may not have the tools needed to approach the subject in a gentle manner. Still, children will need support and guidance, but how will parents know if and when to seek help for their child? Mental health for children extends beyond just their minds. As children rapidly develop, all aspects of their maturation will play a role in their overall mental stability. Particularly important, relationships with parents and other adults help to set the stage for mental health for children.

In addition to their village, a child’s environmental factors also play a role in their mental health. Issues such as poverty, unstable home lives and diet can all impact mental health for children. These issues can also impact their access to care for mental health problems. “Environmental stress can affect a child’s mental abilities. 1 in 6 children in the US will suffer from a mental, behavioral or developmental disorders,” says Wilson. “Age and poverty level could affect the likelihood that that child will receive treatment. Access to providers, screening and referral services vary by location and early intervention is the best intervention.” For parents who suspect their child or children are struggling with mental health issues should first look to disruptions in behavior, school and learning as well as functionality in life. Pegged as learning disabilities or behavioral episodes, mental health matters can manifest themselves differently in all children making it especially important to pay close attention to each individual child.

“A child’s social, emotional and behavioral well-being is central to their overall healthy development. To help a child reach their fullest potential, it takes a village, and that could consist of parents, family members, neighbors, pediatricians, teachers and mentors. The most common mental health issues that children face include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder “Mental health disorders in children are (ADHD), behavioral disorders, anxiety and depression,” says London Wilson, LMSW. generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, Clinical Therapist. 6 Michigan Chronicle | Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health

behaviors, social skills or regulation of emotions. These problems are distressing to children and disrupt their ability to function well at home, in school or in other social situations,” says Wilson. “Early signs include: sadness that last more than two weeks, avoiding social interactions, difficulty concentrating, emotional outburst, difficulty sleeping, changes in academic performances or missing school.” Over the past several years, there has been a steady uptick in mental health cases amongst children. Particularly in Black and brown communities, numbers have spiked and continue to climb. Suicide rates for Black youth have become the second leading cause of death in Black children aged 10-14, and the third leading cause of death in Black adolescents aged 15-19, since 2018, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Access to affordable and equal healthcare continues to be one of the main catalysts for mental health hindrances in Black communities and children are bearing the weight of it. “African American children have limited access to mental health care in poverty stricken areas. Living in these areas makes you more likely to be exposed to violence,

post traumatic stress, higher incarceration rates, etc. There is a greater need for culturally competent psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other health care providers who work with minorities,” says Wilson. “Black and African American parents hold beliefs related to stigma such as not being comfortable or wanting to acknowledge that their child needs help. It’s a tough pill to swallow but children or adults should not suffer in silence. Breaking this stigma alone could be the reason a child may thrive in their current environment regardless of other circumstances.” Despite societal woes, parents are charged with spotting mental health issues and their children and seeking help. Having conversations with children and primary caregivers to best assess how the child should be helped will play a key role in aiding the stability of mental health. “Create a sense of belonging and a safe place, educate yourself by learning all that you can, and talk to the child(ren); they have feelings too,” says Wilson. “Most importantly, start with a mental health evaluation. Your local primary care provider or school social worker can assist with starting the referral or evaluation process.”

Here to Talk. Here to Help.

Mental Health Care- Putting Children First Integrated Health Services

For Children, Families & Adults

Behavioral Health Children's Services Crisis Care

Disability Services

DWIHN Helps Nearly 75,000 People

Mental Health Help Substance Use Treatment Veterans Assistance

www.dwihn.org @DetroitWayneIHN

Sheree Braswell - More Than a Diagnosis “I spent almost six years in denial about having an illness, and it wasn’t until I had to beg God in 2014 to bring my mind back that it happened,” said Sheree Braswell, 30. At age 16, Braswell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and through hard work and putting the right support in place, today she is a proud mental health advocate, motivational speaker, and recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University. “Even though I wasn’t in touch with myself, and I wasn’t my true self at that moment because I was sick, it was just that God moment where it was like I have to take this and deal with it,” said Braswell. The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) is a community mental health organization dedicated to breaking down the walls of sigma which are prevalent in black communities. However, in 2021, due to life-altering events that she could no longer control and with her therapy sessions terminated, Braswell didn’t know how to handle her emotions and was hospitalized. After being discharged, she was referred to DWIHN Clinician and Care Coordinator, Sherise Hutchinson. “We make sure members understand they come first and that they drive the services,” said Hutchinson. Braswell was connected to DWIHN Provider Lincoln Behavioral Health which connected her to mental health support. Although this was not Braswell’s first time being supported by

DWIHN, back in 2017, she received a grant from the organization, which helped her start a mental health awareness campaign. She also helped train adults and youth on handling mental health emergencies. As an advocate, Braswell’s goal is to inspire individuals like her and experience life in healthy ways. “Our organization places a major emphasis on the black community because we, unfortunately, get hit the hardest stigma-wise,” said Hutchinson. “We struggle the most because of the stigma attached to mental health issues.” According to Hutchinson, the mindset is slowly changing and people are talking more about mental health, athletes, movie stars, radio personalities, it’s helping drive the conversation that it is okay if you’re not okay. “DWIHN has immersed itself in the black community by being a part of what’s going on and making resources available through comprehensive outreach efforts,” Hutchinson mentioned. “The organization’s primary goal is to educate the community about mental health issues and provide them with support,” Braswell said. “And my experience has motivated me to continue to help others.” Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Mental Health | Michigan Chronicle 7

Keep it a Secret? Why Covering up Mental Health Stigmas in Black Families Is Not the Answer By Sherri Kolade “Family business stays in the household.” This very well-known term is one that Dr. L.A. Barlow, a Detroit Medical Center clinical psychologist, told the Michigan Chronicle is said oftentimes amongst different Black households. While it’s a phrase that elders tend to tell the younger generation to keep them from airing the “dirty laundry” or secrets of a family to outsiders, who is really being left out to dry when situations stay the same? Continuing to work on one’s mental health (and getting a therapist or trusted confidants involved) is not something to look down upon – or keep in the dark –especially as suicide rates and anxiety are skyrocketing in the Black community who are sometimes seemingly in favor of keeping “hush” with cultural norms over fighting mental health stigmas. “Mental healthcare and mental well-being [don’t] discriminate no matter race. Why should we not get the help?” Barlow asked. For countless Black families in America – who represent about 42 million people or 13 percent of the population – these individuals have been shaped by the lived experiences of time, tribulations and circumstances that have created the landscape of

their personal and familial line. According to non-profit research center, Child Trends, the Black family unit has seen insurmountable challenges from “a long history of racism in laws, policies and practices that has built racist institutions and created and exacerbated inequality.” Stemming from that intentional system of inequality, Black families can face obstacles when trying to do everything from buying a house, getting a job or even seeking medical intervention. “Virtually every facet of the lives of Black people in the United States—both adults and children—is shaped by race. America’s racist laws and policies have long impacted Black Americans, regardless of their socioeconomic status or social standing,” according to the article. What does it look like to be healed when a baked-in structural system is constantly battering the spirits, minds and bodies, of Black families? Seeking help – intentionally. Detroiter Malikah Garner, a mother of two young boys, chose to do just that as she had enough of carrying the invisible mental load from the weight of motherhood, family, unresolved childhood pain, cultural expectations and her career. She sought out help a couple of years

ago from a local Black therapist and found great success, although some individuals in her family were against it. “That was not something that I thought was available to me or something that I needed,” Garner previously said, adding that she was first exposed to the concept of going to therapy while in college when her fellow white counterparts casually mentioned it. “Mental health support was not something discussed in my family or community. It is not something I heard at school … or in the city as a teenager.” Denise Johnson, a Detroit-based licensed master social worker, said that the “time has passed” that Black Americans or Black people were hesitant about seeking out services for mental health. Johnson said it is especially true in today’s climate with the pandemic, racial unrest, economic and societal woes, relationship issues and a bevy of other problems which are now intensified. “A lot of Blacks had to be laid off [or] take lower-paying jobs — those are the things happening,” the therapist of 25 years said. “Everything factors into what goes on. You have anxiety for social injustice; things like that and you have to keep on functioning with that anxiety, [which is] high among Blacks right now.” Local resident and mental health thera-

pist Angela B. Burgess said that as a millennial she is all about healing and self-worth, adding that when she was younger, she was a people pleaser and realized in the end, “It was you or me.” She chose herself every time and felt peace to then helping others while not being taken advantage of. “God told me to write a book [about how we] deserve it all,” she said of wholeness. Similarly, area mental health therapist Tay Ford told the Michigan Chronicle that once she realized her worth (after trying to commit suicide twice as a teenager at 16 and 19), she stopped being what everybody wanted her to be. “I felt like I had to be perfect,” she said, adding that her family also put burdens on her, which she broke free from, and others can do the same through therapy and growing deeper in God’s revelations of who we’re supposed to be. “We all deserve full and sustainable life... We need to talk about it and not be afraid.” If finances are preventing you from finding help, contact a local health or mental health clinic or your local government to see what services you qualify for. You can find contact information online at findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling the National Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).


• Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities • Mental Health Challenges • Substance Use Disorders

Oakland Community Health Network ensures people are aware of and have access to quality behavioral health services. These valuable supports improve health, quality of life, and promote full community participation for Oakland County residents.

Non-emergency ACCESS 248-464-6363 Crisis helpline (24 hours/7 days) 800-231-1127 Michigan Resource & Crisis Line (MiCAL) 844-446-4225 call or text (64225) 24 hours/7 days


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