Welcome to the mental health corner. I have been a drum major for educating the black community on mental health throughout the years. I am a strong believer that knowledge is power. The stigma attached to mental illness keeps one from becoming mentally healthy. Let’s open the door and walk into a new day of mental wellness. Remember “Your Mental Health Matters.”
This week, the Readers Ask:
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic I have been nervous, anxious, and a little depressed. I really don’t believe in talking to someone but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want anyone to think I am crazy.
During unprecedented times like these, sometimes our only outlet can be to talk with someone. With self-isolation and social distancing becoming our new normal, it is completely expected to see a rise in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. While speaking with someone about these issues you may be slightly uncomfortable; it can also be quite therapeutic. Traditionally, African Americans do not seek help and will choose to suffer in silence. We should change the way we have been programmed for so many years and “RESET.” Stop the self-inflicted “black silence pain.” What you are experiencing is normal for the current times. The last pandemic was in 1918. Therefore, feeling fearful of the unknown can and does cause stress, anxiety and even depression. There are ways to reduce the stress. A few suggestions include:
- First, get tested. There are testing centers opening up daily throughout the city.
- Take breaks from social media and the news.
- Take care of your body. Eat, sleep and exercise daily.
- Connect with others via Zoom or Facetime.
- Practice breathing exercises, and mindfulness.
- Call a hotline to talk with a counselor; it can be anonymous.
- If symptoms persist seek professional help.
My ten-year-old son has not been able to sleep lately. He thinks he has COVID-19. He overheard my cousin talk about my uncle dying from COVID -19.
Children react to what we say, and more importantly how we say it and what we do. Our world is digital. Children are subject to information from various avenues, so it is important that parents take the opportunity to break down the pandemic in an age-appropriate way for their kids to understand. Children pick up on cues, and are more observant than we think. It is important to watch our tone when speaking on the pandemic. Acknowledge their fears but explain how you will be there for them. Your son may fear that what happened to his uncle will happen to you. Additionally, reiterate the symptoms of the pandemic to your child, as well as stating the precautions you all have taken as a family to prevent contracting the virus. Doing this will reassure your child that you will do whatever to help prevent them from contracting the virus, while also teaching them how to be safe during the pandemic. A few suggestions to aid in sleep and reduce anxiety:
- Have your son cut off all electronics before going to bed.
- Play relaxing music thirty minutes before bedtime.
- Try warm milk or tea.
- Allow him to talk, and/or color to express his fears.
I am a black male. I don’t believe in counseling. Does it really work?
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are less likely to have their mental health problems addressed. Minority communities have a history of being against counseling. Often times this stems from years of oppression and generational trauma. Women are more likely to seek treatment than black males; however, the rates of seeking treatment fall scientifically below that of the white community. The suicide rate of black males has increased between the ages of 22-28 years old over the past five years. The question is: Does it really work? The simple answer is yes. However, counseling is a two-way street. As much as you would like help, your counselor would like to help you. Thank you for reaching out and taking the first step to seeking help.
I don’t know what to do with my kids right now. They are driving me crazy. Now they are talking about school being out.
Staying at home during this pandemic is hard enough, having your kids home 24/7 can be even harder. We love our children, but this pandemic has given us a new appreciation for their teachers, principals and school community. Staying calm while staying home with your kids includes:
- Explaining, in terms they can understand, why they are out of school and why we have to stay home.
- Establish a routine that includes down time for yourself.
- Use positive discipline.
- Create a schedule; allow for play, down time, and class work. Be creative and think outside the box.
- Have cooking classes, to include baking and cleaning up behind themselves.
- Develop an individual space that everyone can go to when they need time alone.
Here are a few resources available;
- HISD Mental Health COVID-19 Hotline “Let’s Stay Connected” 713 556-1340 (available for all HISD students, parents, family members, and staff)
- The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (provides counseling and psychiatric services) 713-970-8400
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (713) 970-4419 (Resources and advocacy)
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Janice M. Beal, Ed.D. received both a Doctorate of Education Degree in Guidance and Counseling/Psychology and Masters of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Texas Southern University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She pursued post-doctoral education from the University of Texas – School of Public Health and California School of Professional Psychology. Her leadership and administrative experiences include Coordinator of the Psychology Program at Prairie View A & M University for seven years. She was also an Assistant Professor teaching classes in general psychology, research methods, adolescent psychology, and African American issues in psychology. Dr. Beal has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas and Sam Houston State University.
At Beal Counseling Associates, Dr. Beal is the Clinical Director and primary therapist. Her administrative duties include overseeing the billing and reporting process for operations. She oversees the systems for each contract to ensure compliance with each client’s reporting procedure.
Dr. Beal has more than twenty-eight plus years of professional experience as a clinician, treating the emotional needs of children and adolescents.