Healing and Building Mental Wellness

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June 3, 2021
Sign on the side of a building that says How are you, really?

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.

Episode 20: Healing and Building Mental Wellness

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Moderator, Jacki Hecht, interviewed Elliott Niblack, the Chief Education and Equity Officer and Internship Director at The D. Wood Foundation. He has an extensive background as an educator and trainer and has developed an Educated Empathy curriculum for families to strengthen communication, social and emotional learning, and cultural awareness for creating spaces that support youth through the trauma of racial bias. Additionally, Jacki Hecht interviewed Meredith Stacy Jones, a Behavioral Health Trainer, Group Facilitator, Transformation Coach, Motivational Speaker, who has worked as an offender education instructor, Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Elliott Niblack is a member of a non-profit organization that increases mental health and suicide awareness in the African American and minority communities. He strives to help create a sense of community and human connection to jumpstart the healing process. Jacki Hecht acknowledged the importance of bringing individuals with mental health challenges into the solution and bringing their experiences to light in order for people to relate with one another and “navigate through turbulent waters.”

Furthermore, Niblack added that in order to build mental health, it is crucial to ask ourselves, “What keeps us going?” Oftentimes, one can feel like they are failing when in reality, they aren’t. As humans, it is important to remind ourselves that we are enough so that we can properly enter a state of healing. It is crucial to recognize the small victories and “go easy on yourself.” Be sure to check in with yourself as well as others and remind them of how thankful you are for them.

Hecht noted that as humans, it is natural for us to want to be all-doing. However, humans do well in community and collaborating with others. Finding the flame within us is the first part of the healing process and once it is discovered, we are able to realize that the expectations of society do not have to define an individual. Meredith Stacy Jones recommends to others dealing with mental health dilemmas that the healing process is not a “one size fits all.” Instead, he recommends asking questions, advocating for oneself, and realizing that success doesn’t always lie in a straight path.


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