Black people have been promoters of holistic health for eons, and have always taught that humans are mind, body and spirit. Therefore, making moves to protect and improve your mental well-being is one of the most practical, important and productive ways to celebrate our history.

To that point, the Defender reached out to local Black psychologists, therapists and other mental health advocates to get their takes on the importance of a healthy mental state for Black people.

SPIRIT OF RESILIENCE

“People of African Ancestry have historically maintained a collective spirit of resilience. Now, more than ever before, it is critical for each of us to address our individual mental health needs, just as diligently as we do our physical and spiritual needs. Afterall, in my opinion, it is the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of our being [working together healthily] that enables us to keep rising above the unique biopsychosocial challenges that we face as a people.” (Byron Parker, LMSW, LCCA, Visiting Professor of Social Work, Texas Southern University, Founding member of the Coalition of Urban Resource Experts [CURE], Association of Black Social Workers Houston 2020 Social Worker of the Year)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

CULTURAL IDENTITY

“Everything in mental health must center around how to help that person appreciate themselves from wherever they come from in terms of their culture. I reject the mainstream (Eurocentric), one-size-fits-all approach that ignores the role a person’s cultural identity plays in them achieving mental and emotional peace.” (Dr. Willie Mae Lewis, Director of Women’s Resource Center, Founder of Imani Faith Health Initiative)

DIET & MENTAL HEALTH

“Owners of Ferraris put high premium quality food or gas in their car. That’s all food is. Food is your friend. Food is not the enemy, because food is fuel. It’s learning how to become friends with food and not make it the enemy and developing a healthy relationship with food, which is what I do with my clients and my work. Still, diet and exercise aren’t the only two things to look at from a holistic perspective. Your stress levels, sleeping patterns, hormones, self-care, mental health, all play a role in your health. When you love something, you take care of it, right? And so, you should be on that list as well. You should be loving yourself. So, let’s love ourselves to better health.” (Jennifer Jones, Certified integrative holistic nutrition health coach, personal trainer, wellness educator and founder/owner of JENuine Nutrition)

RISE IN PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS / BETTER GROUP HEALTH

What we’re dealing with is consciousness, public consciousness. And as knowledge about these things (our history as a people and your personal family history) begin to rise it’s going to push at the boundaries of status quo society. That’s going to cause changes and for people to think about things, and they’re going to produce new works of art, new intellectual works and new plays. They are going to be new things that happen as a result of people just being aware of a broader perspective on history and the Black experience, which will produce a new level of mental health and well-being for each of us individually and for us collectively. (D. Kimathi Nelson, Presiding Bishop of the Shrines of the Black Madonna)