Becoming Certified in Mental Health

Names and dates have been crossed out for privacy purposes

Three weeks ago I took another step forward in my advocacy by taking a mental health training course offered through a local NYC chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; which I am proud to say is my sorority. I am now certified to recognize and respond to people experiencing mental health distress and substance misuse. And though I’m an Alzheimer’s advocate,it is still a branch, connected to the tree of mental health, and I want to do my part to become as well-rounded and knowledgeable as I can, to be able to assist others.

This training was offered by the City of New York as part of an initiative called “Sisters Thrive” created by NYC’s First lady Chirlane McCray. Within the first year, Sisters Thrive hopes to amplify the national dialogue about mental health awareness in the black Community.

First Lady McCray is taking on mental health wellness in collaboration with historically black women-led organizations. Her goal is to train 10,000 African-Americans in what she calls “Mental Health First Aid” (MHFA), a course that teaches people how to identify and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance-use disorders.

Her passion for mental health came from seeing mental illness and substance abuse challenges in her family and these abuses in the Black community. She choose to work with leading women-led Black organizations because in her words, “These women are very involved in their communities and champions of civil rights. They are caretakers. They are fighters….They help create leaders and back our leaders. These are women who are activists in the most serious sense of the word so if we train them, not only will they be able to take care of themselves and their families, they are going to do so much for our communities and so much for our city and world.”

The organizations she choose to partner with are Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Eastern Area of The Links, Inc., and Jack and Jill of America, Inc..

I’m grateful to be a part of a movement that is a about mental health awareness and about seeking change and advancements in care. For more information on Mental Health First Aid trainings go to ThriveNYC.

If you’re struggling with depression, drugs or alcohol misuse or anxiety you can contact NYCWell,  NYC’s free, confidential support, crisis intervention, and information and referral service for anyone seeking help for mental health and/or substance misuse concerns, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Advertisements

Speaking on Caregiving, Alzheimer’s and My Journey

On March 24th, I was invited to speak at a Mental Health Symposium hosted by the Nassau Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. The Theme was “Real Talk about the Elephant in the Room: Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Health with Facets, Education and Resources.” 

The focus of the day was to address different areas of mental health and discovering ways to eliminate the stigmas that keep people from talking about or taking action such as shame, phobia, anxiety, rejection, depression, stress and more. While I always intend to be timely with my posts, and yes, this one comes two months later, in all honesty, I needed to take care of a few of my health concerns that were and are draining and hence sometimes delaying what I want to do.

I have been very fortunate to educate and bring a smile or laughter to people through this blog as well as having the opportunity to write for a national magazine and websites, but on that day, as the first speaker and with it being my first foray into public speaking about Alzheimer’s, caregiving and my journey, I wanted to make sure my words were informing, well received, impactful with some fun.

This opportunity allowed me to show others that it’s OK to have discussions about Alzheimer’s and caregiving. I shared how I became an unexpected caregiver and that the sooner I learned to meet my mom where she was at and to communicate in a way that was better for her, was in turn better for me. I shared that as a caregiver it’s important to make your loved one feel validated as Alzheimer’s is changing them. Include them in house duties, dinner choices, after you’ve narrowed it down to a small few, or sing songs, play music and make activities as stress free as possible. And when unkind words are spewed at you or daily care is a struggle you have to remember that it’s the illness and not the person.

I can’t express enough the overwhelming feeling of joy that I felt in knowing my words, my tips and advice were wanted and needed. As I answered questions after my segment and later that day, it further reaffirmed that conversations about Alzheimer’s needs to find a place at the table and messages such as mine and of the other panelists are ones that need to be heard more frequently.

My cause is Alzheimer’s, it is an unforgiving disease, and I have chosen to be unforgiving too in my fight for resources and information. Alzheimer’s may not be what you or your family are facing, but there are many other forms of mental illness that need a champion and to remove the stigmas, we must first begin to talk. Talk to family, to friends, to counselors, to lawmakers, to one another and to continue these conversations until they are no longer needed.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a professional, but I am versed in life, in care and compassion. While I’m still growing in my advocacy, I can speak to so much from my own experience and if anyone has a question, needs advice or other please reach out to me. My mission is to be a support, a voice for others and a source of information and we will either find answers and solutions together or we will create a new thing.

I greatly thank my Soror Angela Banks Jourdain for inviting me to speak and in believing that my voice and story is an important one to be heard.

 

With my Soror Angel Banks Jourdain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement’s Challenge 66

On November 1st the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement launched Challenge  66, a month-long campaign to encourage you to leading a brain-healthy lifestyle.

Every 66 seconds a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. This challenge asks you to take 66 seconds to do something that stops the clock on Alzheimer’s. Get moving, get friends to join in, spread the word, share your story on social media with #Challenge66 and have fun. Lets work together to #endalz!

Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement™, founded by Maria Shriver, is a global alliance of individuals, organizations, researchers, foundations, influencers and industry leaders committed to finding out why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women. We believe that by answering the question of why women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, we will unlock the other mysteries surrounding this mind-blowing disease and that will lead to a cure for all. Learn more about them here.

To download the challenge, click on the link: Challenge 66 

Late Recap: Summer Solstice Flow

 

While I didn’t get the opportunity to do my own longest day activity, I did participate in one of the largest yoga events in NYC. Every summer solstice, the Times Square Alliance hosts a free yoga in Times Square event. Each year I’ve missed it, this year it was on my radar far in advance.

They don’t shut down the streets, but the middle sidewalk areas are blocked for exercise central. I’ve been in Times Square during rush hour, off-hours, early morning hours for Good Morning America and now I can add exercising. It was a lot of fun and a great way to stretch and ease into the morning. The mats were complimentary, we received a swag bag full of coupons and Aeropostale, one of the sponsors, along with offering great discounts, gave us free monogramming on athletic wear!

Of course I had to represent my Alzheimer’s community on the Longest Day.