Self Care: The Importance of Mental Health for African Americans

Self care has become my mantra for 2019. I find myself posting comments on my friends IG pages using the hashtag #SelfCare2019. I truly believe that 2019 is the year of self: self love, self care, just simply getting to know one’s self better and embracing every experience that happens in your life. I use to want to rush to get to my “end goal” all the time that I would forget to embrace the journey. By doing this I would miss out on many learning experiences and just taking in life’s precious moments. I am now becoming more aware of myself and protecting my peace, but this wasn’t an overnight process. In order to get to a point of wanting to take care of yourself whether it’s spiritually, physically or mentally you first have to know your trouble spots or what it is you need to work on to be a better person. This process doesn’t happen overnight, it takes months and sometimes even years of practicing self care. Often times we want to rush to finish college, to get a promotion or to get married that we fail to realize that we might not be ready for those things. When you rush through life you don’t realize the lessons life provides you with. You forget he journey we are on teaches us lessons about ourselves and other people. It is through these lessons that we are able to truly become more aware of who we are and make the changes to be the best version of ourselves.

I recently had a wakeup call about a month ago where I found myself in a very toxic place in life. My thought process was all over the place, I was questioning my existence and completely shut out God. My cousin, Dr. Walford who shares his expertise later in this article suggested I see a counselor to get another perspective and just talk things out with someone. I was hesitant at first because of past experience with counselors when I was in college, but I decided to give it a try. My first session I felt as if I was being judged, but in reality your first session is an intake of your counselor just getting to know you to be able to understand your trigger points, etc. My second session was so refreshing in that when I would vent to my counselor she would point out different things that make me react a certain way. Having a second person be able to help you see what makes you tick is good because you are able to become more cautious of the situations you put yourself in. When you become more aware of what can bring you peace and what can bring you chaos you learn to stay clear of those things whether it’s people, music, a place, etc. Protect your peace always!


Now, my cousin Dr. Vincent Walford is currently a psychologist and outreach coordinator for the Baylor University counseling Center. He received his Bachelors from Baylor University, his Masters of public health from Morehouse School of Medicine and his PhD in counseling psychology from Howard University. Anytime I need guidance on a major decision or event I go to him. Recently I connected with him to get some insight on mental health and how it relates to African-Americans and get his input on how to relax. You can read that interview below.

Interview with Dr. Walford

Rachel: Society has said that black people don’t need therapy. Why do you feel that this theory is present in the black community and can it be changed?

Dr. Walford: Part of this theory is something that we call cultural mistrust.  Where white clinicians over pathologies black clients.  In addition there is a shortage of black clinicians where folks feel comfortable talking to.  It can be changed by more education on mental health services.

Rachel: How many times do you recommend a person should see a therapist?

Dr. Walford: The amount of times an individual goes to a therapist depends on the severity of the person’s diagnosis.  There is short and long term services.  Short term services usually focus on 1-2 short term goals and and be anywhere from a few weeks to a semester.  Long term services can be multiple goals and can have a duration from 1 to year plus.

Rachel: What are some ways you recommend to cope with feelings of depression?

Dr. Walford: There are a lot of ways to deal with depression. I would say therapy, medication management, join group therapy, etc.

Rachel: Many times people get upset over comparing themselves to others on social media. Do you feel social media ruins lives or is there another role social media plays?

Dr. Walford: Social media is meant to be a way to keep connected.  Unfortunately folks use social as a way to compare themselves to everyone else. Social media can also be used as a way manage and encourage healthy living.

Rachel: What is your favorite way to relax?

Dr. Walford: My favorite way to relax is music and working out.  I encourage my clients to find things that they enjoy to participate in.

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