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Mario Starks

Culture Matters to Mental Health

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This is an edited guest post by Katherine Ponte.

Katherine Ponte is mental health advocate, writer, and entrepreneur. She is the Founder of ForLikeMinds. Katherine was diagnosed with depression and then bipolar disorder while a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the Board of NAMI-NYC. 

The prevalence of mental health conditions in the Hispanic community has been shown to be no more than the rest of the U.S. population. Yet, Hispanics receive treatment at 50% of the rate of the broader population. Culture matters. 

I am an invisible minority, but I share a similar experience in many respects to the Hispanic community. I am a child of immigrants from a low-to-moderate socio-economic background, who spoke no English when they arrived in Canada. In college, this bi-cultural experience, an important aspect of my identity, made me feel out of place. I couldn’t find others like me until I found the Portuguese student community. It felt safe and comfortable.

I am not all opposed to social integration. To the contrary, I believe it is a necessity, but it should not require shedding our cultural identity. Societies and communities can be made stronger when cultural minorities reconcile their backgrounds with the “outside” world. Retaining awareness of cultural background within a community and raising awareness from outside the community can greatly benefit mental health.  The following are specific ways to achieve these benefits.

  1. Early childhood experiences. These have been shown to have a significant impact on mental health. Socio-economic background, parenting style, cultural experiences, and historical and contemporary treatment of specific minority communities may have a strong impact on mental health. We need to talk about mental health issues in their full context, which lead to a deeper appreciation of contributing factors.
  2. Talking about mental health. It’s difficult. By virtue of being a minority, you feel others don’t understand you. And because you have a mental illness, you again feel like people can’t understand you. Talking about mental illness requires a safe environment, an environment free of stigma, discrimination, and stereotypes. This should be a place where people don’t have to explain their culture’s history and mental illness and how the two are connected.
  3. Coping strategies. Cultural competency works, and we need more of it. Culturally sensitive treatment approaches can make a difference in individual outcomes. Culturally specific coping strategies such as faith-based approaches may be very effective for certain demographics. Some minority communities face greater challenges accessing care. Family communications, which can be critical to developing a good support network, can vary among cultures as well.

Bringing people together to self-empower strengthens the whole, makes our mental health community stronger and better. Mental health for all requires that we have mutual respect and appreciation of our unique backgrounds so that we can make sure that all people get the most effective treatment possible.



ForLikeMinds.com is an online community for people living with or supporting someone with mental illness, substance use, or a stressful life event. It allows people to anonymously connect one-on-one and in groups based on condition and event and personal background such as ethnicity and race. Learn more. Culture matters to us!

Katherine Ponte is mental health advocate, writer, and entrepreneur. She is the Founder of ForLikeMinds. Katherine was diagnosed with depression and then bipolar disorder while a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the Board of NAMI-NYC. 

Self-Care for June: Tips To Take You From Feeling Overwhelmed To Empowered

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Tips To Take You From Feeling Overwhelmed To Empowered

“The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.”
― Lorraine Hansberry

Every June, we gather for virtual and in-person celebrations and demonstrations of LGBTQ Pride. We honor the work done by those before us–like the protesters at Stonewall and countless others–to fight for equal rights. We also recognize that many LGBTQ people are still struggling for their civic freedoms and fair treatment. One common and shared experience by LGBTQ young people is the pressure to meet family expectations, to ‘fit in’ socially, and to be something else–all of which also is manifested in phenomena like bullying and micro-aggressions and can affect mental health negatively. For LGBTQ people of color, societal bias against these intersectional identities can compound the adverse impact on well-being and cause a person to feel overwhelmed.

Feeling overwhelmed in many ways is normal. Whether you feel that the burden of your responsibilities is just too heavy, or you feel overcome by meeting seemingly-impossible expectations from others, these experiences can lead to a general sense that you’ve lost your power over your circumstances. Yet, feeling overwhelmed can also carry physiological and psychological risk of stress.

Feeling empowered, on the other hand, has been tied to greater decisivenessgoal-oriented action, and a general sense of control. So, how can you begin to undo feeling overwhelmed when it shows up? Follow these tips to get started.

Evaluate Your Circle. Are the people around you supporting you? If not, it could be time to say good-bye. Know that you deserve positive and supportive people in your life and nothing less.

Work Your Inner Monologue. First, recognize your feelings, instead of denying or burying them. Then, have a conversation with yourself about turning those feelings around. Research suggests that this kind of work–particularly in the form of journaling–can lead to greater health and happiness.

Build Yourself Up. One way to feel more empowered is to recognize your strengths and reaffirm your individual power. Research shows that using affirmations can help. Try these three to get started: I am who I want to be. I believe in me. I am grateful for today.

From everyone on The Steve Fund’s team, I want to wish you all a wonderful Pride month. As Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple says, “History rarely yields to one person, but think and never forget what happens when it does. That can be you. That should be you. That must be you.” I hope these tips help you remember that you can be that person!

Be well,


Anuja Khemka
Executive Director

The Steve Fund Attends Boris L. Henson Foundation Benefit Dinner

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On Friday, June 7, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)’s new Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health convened for the second time. Dr. Annelle Primm, Senior Medical Advisor, who represents The Steve Fund on the Task Force’s working group of experts and stakeholders, spoke during the launch conference in April. Following the gathering on Capitol Hill, senior leaders from The Steve Fund joined the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation during its inaugural benefit dinner (pictured above).

Actress, mental health advocate, and founder of the Henson Foundation Taraji P. Henson aptly described a deep concern within the African-American community with her comment:

“We, in the African-American community, we don’t deal with mental health issues. We don’t even talk about it. We’ve been taught to pray our problems away. We’ve been demonized for coming out and saying we have [mental health] issues and we have trust issues. I need the person sitting opposite from me, when I go seek [mental] help, to be culturally competent. If you’re not culturally competent how can I trust you with my deepest secrets and my vulnerability?”


The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, launched by Taraji P. Henson to help eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community, hosted a benefit dinner Friday, June 7, 2019 in Washington DC. Pictured above (left to right): Gordon Bell (The Steve Fund Board Member), Dr. Annelle Primm (The Steve Fund Advisor), Dr. Narcisa Polonio (The Steve Fund Advisor), and Dr. Sam Daniel (former President/CEO of the former North General Hospital in Harlem and prominent NYC physician).

Here are a few resources from The Steve Fund that also support Taraji P. Henson’s appeal to fight the stigma around mental health in African-American communities and communities of color:

Meet Our Latest Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholar

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Meet Robina Onwong’a, a rising 4th year Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) Counseling Psychology Program, and 2019 recipient of The Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on African American Youth presented by The Steve Fund and The Association of Black Psychologists.

Robina Onwong’a is a Maryland native with Kenyan roots. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, French Language & Literature, and International Studies from the University of Maryland. She is a rising 4th year Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) Counseling Psychology Program. She serves on a few executive boards: The Association of Black Psychologists, Student Circle, Communications Chair; Mizzou’s African Graduate and Professional Student Association (AGPSA), Secretary; Mizzou’s Counseling Psychology Student Organization (CPSO), 4th Year Doctoral Representative. As part of her clinical training, Robina has provided career counseling and currently provides individual therapy and co-facilitates group therapy at a community mental health clinic that uses an integrative behavioral health care approach. She also conducts clinical assessments at an autism and neurodevelopmental clinic. Robina’s research focuses on the influence that psychological trauma in early age has on psycho-social-emotional development, ethnic identification, and belonging for historically marginalized and underserved people, particularly those of African descent. She aspires to develop and consult about the implementation of culturally appropriate interventions that will support the mental health of those individuals, facilitate healing, and ultimately, spread love. Robina likes photography, teaching, facilitating workshops, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and fruits, to name a few significant things.

 

About The Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on African American Youth

The Association of Black Psychologists is proud to offer The Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on African American Youth. Established by The Steve Fund, this scholarship is in memory of Stephen C. Rose whose passions included psychology, in which he attained a graduate degree. It seeks to encourage and promote research on psychological challenges confronting African American youth. This is an area of study which needs greater attention, particularly given the impact of societal issues such as racism, which have a negative effect on the mental health of African American youth.

The Steve Fund has established this award in recognition of the inspiration Stephen gave to all of those who knew him. Stephen was a young African American man who lived life with courage, determination, and compassion. He cared deeply about the well-being of others, therefore this fund was created by his family and friends to promote the mental and emotional well-being of young people of color.

For additional information, contact The ABPsi National Office at 301-449-3082 or abpsi@abpsi.org.

 

#b4stage4chat Twitter Chat Recap: Discussing Health & Wellness for Mental Health Month

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The pros and cons of social media and technology often depend on how we use it.  To bring awareness to Mental Health Month in May, The Steve Fund co-hosted a Twitter chat with Mental Health America to unite our online communities in conversation around how our lifestyles impact our physical and mental health.

We were joined by nearly 150 participants and mental health advocates including our guests Dr. Anthony Jack (@tony_jack), assistant professor at Harvard in Cambridge, Jay Wang (@JayWang36), co-chair for the Steve Fund’s Youth Advisory Board, and Dannie Bell, high school senior and Steve Fund volunteer.

If you weren’t able to join the #b4stageb4chat conversation, here’s a recap:

On ways to take care of our mental health daily:

 


 

On how we can support others who open up about their struggles:

 


 

We discussed how pets and service animals can make a world of difference for individuals with chronic physical and #mentalhealth conditions, and how those without a pet/service animal can incorporate animal companions in their lives:

 


 

On taking care of physical and mental health while at work:

 


 

On how faith, religion, or spirituality contribute positively to #mentalhealth:

 


 

On racial discrimination and microaggressions. What can people do to protect their mental health if they encounter these challenges?

 


 

On what mental health professionals can do to remove this barrier in cross-cultural mental health care relationships:

 


 

On how the use of social media can lead to isolation and exposure to cyberbullying. What are some of the ways that social media can be used as a tool to raise mental health awareness?

 


 

On how technology is being used to support mental health and well-being. What are some examples of technology resources currently in use to help people deal with mental health crises and to maintain emotional balance?

 


 

On other campaigns or resources for #MentalHealthMonth:

 


 

Thank you for reading our recap of the #b4stage4chat Twitter chat. If you’re interested and want to participate in our next event, subscribe to updates here. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

A Guide to Seeking Work-Life Balance

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Seeking A Work-Life Balance

A Guide From The Steve Fund

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Seeking A Work-Life Balance

To achieve the mental and emotional wellness we all deserve, we must start by tackling a trend in today’s world: the imbalance between personal life and work and school commitments.

People who strike better balance between work and life report remarkable benefits. Surveys show that feeling engaged at work improves the likelihood of overall well-being (1). At the same time, having more control over your hours and schedule correlate to better mental and physical health (2), as well as better job performance and greater satisfaction (3).

At some point or another, most of us run the risk of letting work and school commitments take on too great a role in our lives, and suffer the consequences. This guide is intended to provide you with both inspiration and techniques that you can use to achieve more balance in your life.

Work-life equilibrium is a worthy goal to pursue to enhance well-being, so try small changes like the ones described here so that you can care for yourself and achieve both your personal and professional goals.

References:

  • 1. McGregor, Jean. “The Average Work Week Is Now 47 Hours.” The Washington Post, September 2, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2014/09/02/the-average-work-week-is-now-47-hours/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.550fb9fb6661.
  • 2. Gonzalez-Mulé, Erik, and Bethany Cockburn. “Worked to Death: The Relationships of Job Demands and Job Control with Mortality.” Personnel Psychology 70, no. 1 (2016): 73-112. doi:10.1111/peps.12206.
  • 3. Hill, E. Jeffrey, Brent C. Miller, Sara P. Weiner, and Joe Colihan. “Influences Of The Virtual Office On Aspects Of Work And Work/life Balance.” Personnel Psychology 51, no. 3 (December 7, 1998): 667-83. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1998.tb00256.x.

Work-Life Balance Quotes

The Steve Fund at 2019 CPN Summit June 10-12 in Nashville

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Join experts, policy-makers, thought leaders, and practitioners from member institutions and organizations to examine emerging strategies for solving the critical issues related to campus health and safety.

We are excited to invite you to join us for the 11th Annual Campus Prevention Network Summit taking place at the Renaissance Nashville on June 10-12. The Steve Fund is partnering with EVERFI for this three-day gathering of higher education professionals to learn, share, and explore strategies for enhancing prevention and compliance efforts at their institutions.

Date:
June 10-12, 2019

Location:
Renaissance Nashville
611 Commerce St
Nashville, TN 37203

As a Summit Partner in Thought Leadership, we are pleased to provide you with 10% off the registration fee using code summitbound2019.

Register today: CPN SUMMIT

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville!

 

See Highlights from CPN 2018 held in New Orleans