Category: Mental Health Articles
August 19, 2014
“Cause everybody dies in the summer
Wanna say ya goodbyes, tell them while it's spring
I heard everybody's dyin' in the summer
So pray to God for a little more spring” – Chance the Rapper
This excerpt is from the song “Paranoia” from Chicago Based rapper, Chance the Rapper. This small excerpt is just a taste of the violence in Chicago. We as the black community recognize some of the black on black violence around particular parts of the nation. Not just Chicago but every urban city where young black men live. I once had a teacher that shared something similar with my seventh grade class. She reminded us on how to stay safe during the summer. We brushed it off as if we needed someone to tell us how to be safe. Going to an inner city high school, I have a good idea on what in school violence looks like. I witnessed theft, violence, and the loss of classmates. After multiple deaths in my high school, I realized what my seventh grade teacher was saying. She was trying to look out for us. She wanted our mentality to be focused on safety and not what we think is safe. No one can predict death, but we can take preventive steps to lessen the likelihood of violence.
Even the recent Eric Garner death has black males questioning our own safety. Continuous harassment WILL push a man to act unconventionally. If you were to watch the Eric Garner video, Mr. Garner is fed up with the constant harassment form the local police department and he finally stands up for himself. Little did we know, it would be the last stand Mr. Garner would take. On August 1, 2014, the official medical examiner ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide.
But why violence?
It’s not the music that make kids fight; nor is it the food they eat nor the water they drink either. It’s not the cars they drive or they places they work. It’s not the clothes they wear or the look of their hair. Stigma, negative stigma is the cause of the uproar of violence and young deaths. We as young black males are the blame for bad neighborhoods. We are the blame for inner city violence and poverty rates. We are the blame for single mothers with children that repeat the cycle of violence. We are taught that everyone who is not in our same social economical class is the enemy. We put the blame on everyone, but ourselves. I was taught that I was the problem, until I realized it wasn’t me. We must better ourselves by changing our mindset. I was even influenced by several articles I’ve read in the past few weeks. A young black Cornell Graduate student has written articles on his take on race in the United States. I was moved so much by his articles that I emailed him. I essentially said ‘Thank you’ for having an open mind approach to the ongoing problem about race. The article was in reply of a Time magazine article “Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege”.
I didn’t have a creative segway to this topic, but I came across this song “Treat Me Caucasian” not too long ago; by another Chicago rapper Supa Bwe.
“Come off them-come off them benefits
Untriple all of our sentences, treat me Caucasian
Get me a loan with no sin attached
Give me that privilege, give me that, treat me Caucasian” – Supa Bwe
August 13, 2014
Experts including Dr. Lucie Hemmen and Dr. David Veal are beginning to consider a compulsion to take selfies as a serious mental health problem. Individuals can spend hours, even days taking hundreds of selfies in an attempt to capture the “perfect” photo (McKay). Taking selfies can lead to technology addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder — a chronic mental health condition in which the sufferer obsesses over perceived flaws with their body. In addition to that, it has been proven by multiple studies that taking selfies can be detrimental to a person’smental health, and it can be linked to narcissism, depression, and low self-esteem.
So how can we fix this problem? First, we have to realize that there is a deep denial about how dangerous it is to interact with screens without setting limits on how much time is spent doing so. With that said, it is hard to convince people that the effects of taking selfies are serious. Nevertheless, the common treatment of taking selfies is gradually learning how to go for longer periods of time without satisfying the urge to take a photograph, along with therapy to address the root cause of the problem. Thus, learning how to use selfies in moderation. Selfies, if used properly, can be a feel-good and often creative way, to chronicle one’s life and emotions and express one’s personality.
In conclusion, know this—According to clinical psychologist Lucie Hemmen there is a continuum of health and authenticity in what you shoot and post (McKay). A secure, mature person is going to post selfies that are spontaneous and not overly engineered or edited, and they're going to do it less often. A more insecure person is going to post staged or sexualized photos, and they're going to do it so much that they become consumed by it and the comments they receive. Let’s not let selfies control our mental health.
McKay, Tom. "A Psychiatric Study Reveals Selfies Are Far More Dangerous than You Think." PolicyMic. N.p., 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 June 2014. <http://www.policymic.com/articles/86287/a-psychiatric-study-reveals-selfies-are-far-more-dangerous-than-you-think>.
August 07, 2014
In two weeks, I will be leaving the state that I’ve called home for twenty-two years to begin my new journey. How do I feel? I can’t even begin to describe the emotions that are going through my head at this very second. All I have in Nashville, TN is an aunt. That’s it! Granted I’m thankful that she is there but as far as everything else… I’ll have to start from scratch.
The Masters of Divinity Program at Vanderbilt University will take three years to complete. In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t seem that long. My undergraduate career took four years but the time literally flew by! I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution…but it’s the adjustment piece that continues to plague my mind.
It takes eight hours to get from Durham, NC to Nashville, TN. This means I can’t just hop in the car and go see my family whenever I want to. Wow. It still hasn’t hit me yet but I think it will once I move. In Nashville, I’ll be an hour behind everyone back at home. I must say that when I went to visit Nashville, I did enjoy being in the central time zone. I felt like I had more time in the day- probably because I wasn’t doing much in the first place besides touring the city. I’m not too keen on cars but now I’ll have to take time to really learn about my vehicle. This is something I should have been doing already- I know. I do have AAA so that actually may come in handy! It still wouldn’t hurt to know about your own vehicle. I’m not looking forward to finding a new barber AND a new church home. I’ve been going to the same barber since middle school. All I had to do was call my barber, tell him I was coming and he would find the time to squeeze me in his schedule. I have been attending the same church for four years. Before that, I was a member at my home church for eighteen years. My church family has truly been my support system in college and throughout life. Leaving both churches will be difficult for me.
When it comes to the divinity school, I will be entering a totally new curriculum. Reading and studying are about to become my new best friends. I know that undergraduate and graduate programs are on two different levels. I’m not expecting it to be easy but then again… I don’t know what exactly to expect- if that makes any sense. Theology is something that I’ve always had an interest in so I’m sure I will enjoy learning new concepts. At the same time, I am grounded in what I believe personally. I realize that everyone who comes to Divinity School may not believe the same way that I do. Some individuals may be Buddhist, Hindu or even atheist. No matter their religious preference, I still have to see them as human beings and understand that they too have a voice.
I heard someone say once that “sometimes you have to go in order to grow”. This journey is definitely going to be a growth process for me but I’m up for the challenge. I’ve come too far to stop now. Besides, I can still see my doctorate within reach after I get my masters. Three degrees before I turn 30 years old- it can happen. Don’t believe it? Just watch.
July 22, 2014
July 17, 2014
There’s been a recent spike in in virtual gaming; virtual reality (VR) gaming that is. One of company at the forefront for VR gaming is a company named Oculus VR. Oculus VR’s leading product is the Oculus rift, which has the potential of bringing the world of virtual reality gaming to our very own living room. Oculus rift has received so much positive feedback other company’s such as Avegant gyph, Infinite Eye, and even Sony are already refining their R&D departments for this exploding market. Though a very cool concept what is it actually doing to your brain? Will our brain even be able to decipher between real and virtual?
To understand this, we must understand how virtual reality units like Oculus rift succeed. The rift comes with a headset that fills the user’s range of vision. This essentially means using your peripheral sight as well as determining depth and translating that to natural responses. These natural responses can then create data used to interact with the video game. To create a sense of real time motion a gyroscope and accelerometer are built into the headset collecting data. The user also wears a set of headphones which allows the user to hear everything that happens in gameplay.
The real “magic” of the rift is how it creates a sense of presence in our minds. This sensation is made by our brains prior experience of what of something is and sensory detail of what something’s supposed to do. Omni is another application of virtual gaming, but this takes a more physical approach. Omni essentially allows a player to run, walk, and jump while in their virtual reality experience. The device itself is stationary, but a harness and slick low friction grooved surface allows the player to almost move seamlessly through a virtual reality gaming environment.
So what’s the problem? Well, nothing at this point. Some are even looking into how devices such as oculus rift have the potential to treat mental disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). VR bring a whole new world of treating mental health disorders or even improve someone’s mental abilities.
June 11, 2014
So all the people I know that listen to music 9 times out of 10 downloads it. Whether they paid for it or not is another question. Illegally downloading music is actually a very big problem. The concept of free music isn’t even an argument within my generation of peers, so the issue almost means nothing to us.
In this current wave of introducing new music, people are more impatient than ever. Streaming services are now available to anyone and everyone. The idea behind streaming music is to allow people to readily listen to any song without the commitment of a download or “purchase”.
I’ve even found myself using streaming services more recently. My favorite service is soundcloud. The selection is greater, it frees space on my media device, and I don’t have to worry about the “Fed’s” tracing me down because I didn’t want to pay the $1.29, which is ridiculous, to listen to my potentially favorite song.
More importantly the music feels free. I didn’t have to type in my credit card, I didn’t have to walk in a store, I didn’t even get pressured to upgrade to a paid account. I support the movement of streaming media. It’s convenient for me, cost effective, and gives artist the recognition and statistics that their music is worth something.
June 04, 2014
I’ve recently begun blogging and the story of Karyn Washington the creator of ‘For Brown Girls’ caught my eye and captured my heart. Washington reportedly committed suicide at the tender age of 22 after suffering from depression stemming from the loss of her mother. This hit my heart for two reasons. 1. She’s only a year older than me…a college student and 2. She’s a blogger that was interested in empowering and encouraging women to love themselves. These two things are practically I. I’m amazed at the fact that as she still desired to help others and while doing so, she was dealing with her own things.
Mental health is something serious. Did you know that depression is a mental illness? Let me make something really clear: you, we, she, he is not exempt. College students are not exempt. We (the black community) always seem to think that some things “aren’t what black people do”. Mental issues, mental health and stability have no face, color, socioeconomic status or background. Depression and suicide are things we deal with right in our own backyards…our own living rooms. We have to know and understand that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. You aren’t crazy for seeking help with coping with the loss of a parent or dealing with suicidal thoughts or even for being sad. Those sad thoughts may be more serious than you think if not tackled. To me and I don’t know how much my opinion counts to you but I truly admire those that are out to better themselves and are worried about their own well-being; self-love. I’ve noticed that the black community…it’s of our culture to believe that what happens in our home, stays in our home and that our issues will not be talked about and ridiculed among complete strangers or the Joneses’. Seeking help is saying I know I’m dealing with some things and recognizing the fact that all things aren’t able to be solved in the comfort of your own home but better on someone’s couch. We, yes WE must kill the stigma placed around seeking help. Did we think that these resources were put into place to hinder? We must kill our prides.
I’m sure committing suicide was the last thing on Karyn Washington’s mind at some point; let’s be real here her purpose was to help, promote self-love and seeing the beauty in which we are. I think it’s fair to say everyone can put on a façade but a façade can only be put on for so long. You never know what people are dealing with. Take the time to say something nice. Take the time to check on someone that you haven’t talked to in awhile. You never know what someone is going through and how much of a positive effect your nice words and thoughtful actions can be of help. Know that it is ok to seek help. Do not allow someone to talk you out of taking care of you.
See @myhealthimpact on Twitter, the web at myhealthimpactnetwork.org and on Tumblr for more information on mental health.
Gone too soon….
February 11, 2013
“What has the world come to?” is often a question that floats through my mind as I read the news. Being an African American woman in a predominately Caucasian class is unsettling when the teacher reveals a chart of health statistics and African Americans are highest at risk for practically every sexually transmitted disease. Black women were second in comparison to black men in terms of early death rate; however, African American women are the highest ethnic/ gender group overall to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Why is this so? One reason that comes to my mind is that females are more likely to go get tested than males. Furthermore, why is the percentage rate of these diseases high in the black community particularly?
Unfortunately, most STDs are contracted and spread by our young people (teenagers & young adults). In my hometown, Philadelphia, STDs are spreading rapidly, especially in the public school system. The mayor, Michael Nutter, noticed the dangerous trend amongst these students and came to a controversial conclusion to disseminate condoms at public schools without parental consent. The majority of public high schools have condom dispensers located in a nurse facility to supply all students with free condom protection. When I was in high school, condoms then were available to students, but we had to have parental consent. This new policy may help solve the problem of the spread of STDs, but created another. Parents are now questioning why their children’s school is “giving them the right to engage in sexual activities”. For more information on this new policy, see http://sexetc.org/
I perfectly understand both sides of the argument. However, I believe that students will choose to have sex regardless of whether or not condoms are free or not (personal decisions). The school system is just educating kids to have safer sex if they are going to have sex at all. The choice to abstain from sexual activity is still available. However, sexually active teens and young adults in the Philadelphia area can http://takecontrolphilly.org/ to find where to go to get free condoms.
Share your thoughts with us. Let us hear from you via a blog comment or on Twitter @myhealthimpact.
September 10, 2012
On Thursday, August 30th, Dr. Payton gave a presentation on campus titled ‘You Ain’t Crazy: It’s Your Mental Health’ where she discussed mental health issues in the African-American community. What stuck out to me the most was the video she showed featuring Terrie Williams where she talks about her book “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting”. Williams talks about how people think they are the only one who is going through something so they keep things bottled in and suffer from depression, hyper tension, and heart disease; or it will come out through self-medicating, gambling, sex, risk behaviors, etc. Risk behaviors can only increase the chance of being exposed to HIV.
For some strange reason, in our community, when we are suffering from something such as depression, we don’t go and get help. Instead, we turn to a friend who ends up giving us bad advice or just decide to seek a spiritual source to resolve our problems. While I am not knocking the latter, sometimes it is good to keep mental and spiritual health issues separate. Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.
Last semester I had things going on with my family that I had never experienced before and I didn’t have time to react properly. I used my school and extra-curricular activities as a way to block everything out until one day it caught up with me. I literally woke up crying. I didn’t go to class that morning (which added to my stress) and I reached out to one of my sorority sisters who I am close with. Having experienced depression before, she forced me to go to the University Health Center to seek counseling. I was skeptical at first, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone who was a professional. I went to the Health Center and was told that I needed to set up an appointment. I was upset because I didn’t want to wait to talk to someone in seven days; I needed someone at that moment. I was afraid that my natural habit of pushing things away would hinder me from receiving proper help. In any case, I set the appointment and returned a week later. Unfortunately, the counselor was not helpful, but I was proud of myself for taking the initial step.
When I told certain people in my family that I went to see a counselor their response was ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I responded ‘to make sure I don’t go crazy!’. I also told them that I wanted to find another counselor and begin seeing them regularly, again they asked ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I believe that counseling can help you receive an unbiased opinion on how you should move forward. A counselor does not give you advice based on experience. They give you advice based on clinical research that can help you control your reaction to events that you can’t control. Can you control risk behaviors?
If you’re reading this and you have something that you are dealing with, seek help. More than likely you are not alone in the matter. If you need motivation, watch the video below featuring Terry Williams who also gives her personal testimony about battling with depression.
For up-to-date information, follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter!
In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
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