As we conclude Mental Health Awareness month, I would like to bring in some professional advice to all my gals that are on the fence about attending therapy. Introducing one of the coolest counselors I know on my blog, Satura Long! This post ties in with my heartbreak blog post so be sure to read both today!
My name is Satura Long and I work as a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate at a community outpatient agency. I received my Master of Education and Education Specialist degrees at Clemson University through their Clinical Mental Health Program. I’ve been working in the mental health field for two years and it has been the most rewarding experience for me thus far. I went into the field of counseling because I found it to be something that I felt I could have benefitted from as a child and aimed to be the person in which I needed. I feel like as black women we are often seen as these superwomen that are always suppose to have it together and be strong, but this unfair demand leads many of us to feel lost and alone with this unachievable standard.
One thing I often hear from people is, “counseling isn’t for me” or “I’m not crazy or anything”. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be “crazy” to receive services. Sometimes just having that objective ear to challenge patterns that have been problematic or addressing traumas that may be unspoken is needed. We are human and share an unique experience in this thing called life and we don’t always get it right. The right counselor for you will focus on building rapport, making you feel comfortable and will assist you with viewing and coping with situations in a healthy and effective manner. Comfortability is also known to be a hurdle in the African American community when opening up to a counselor. Though black counselors in the field may be a more rare find, they are out there so don’t give up! The field of counseling is becoming more diverse each year to be able to aid a variety of populations. Lastly, you can still love Jesus and receive counseling services!!!! In the black community, counseling wasn’t (and sometimes still isn’t) something that was promoted or glorified. I feel like this rhetoric in our culture has made it hard for people to feel comfortable with receiving services. Though our gender, race, class, sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion and more often shapes our experiences, there is no discrimination on being able to focus on addressing what’s important to you.
There are many avenues to try to find the right counselor for you. There are sites like Psychology Today where you can narrow your search by location, speciality, and any other identifiable criteria. Therapy for Black Girls is also another resourceful site that is focused on creating a space to encourage the mental health wellness of black women and girls and also provides you with African American providers in your area. With finding a provider don’t feel bad about being picky. Counselors are humans too, so you’re not always going to mesh with the first one you meet. Don’t feel afraid to “counselor shop” and find the person that makes you feel most comfortable and safe. Also be sure to check in with any specialty they may offer or that you may be looking for and accepted insurance or any sliding scales for individuals without insurance. We have accountants and financial advisors to address our finances. We have doctors, trainers and nutritionist to address our physical health. We have preachers and leaders to address our spiritual health. So why should there be shame for having someone to address our mental health?
So, I leave you with some helpful activities/tips that I suggest for maintaining your mental health and decompressing from overwhelming moments.
1.) SELF CARE!! We live in such a fast paced society that we become stuck in this everyday looping routine. Finding time to recharge and prioritize yourself is important(and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so).
2.) Mindfulness. Mindfulness is such a effortful task but is so rewarding. The aim of mindfulness is to bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. A lot of times we worry about the next thing, the next day, and the next interaction but mindfulness allows us to focus and appreciate our present to be able redirect these thoughts. Some activities could be guided meditations, mindfulness walk(walk outside and notice small details about your environment) , and mindfulness breathing(trying a breathing exercise and specifically focus on your breathing; acknowledging wandering thoughts and refocusing )
3.) Acknowledge. Acknowledge your emotions and finding a healthy outlet to process them. We’ve all been there with shoving our emotions away and them ruminating in our minds and in our bodies. Try to focus on identifying your emotions when they come, why you are experiencing that emotions, and finding a healthy outlet to process your emotion (I.e journaling, art, talking to someone, etc).
Thanks for reading!