MPN Manifesto

What Mental Health Means to our Board Members

The following statements, made by our Board Members, are reflections of what each member considers to be significant in regards to mental health, how they maintain their mental health, and how they believe we can combat the stigma surrounding mental health. 

“I think that mental health shapes who we are as people and without adequate care, it is difficult for us to be our best selves. In order for me to maintain my best self, I take the time to engage in self-care by providing myself some alone time, where I reflect on myself. My self-reflection helps me to better educate myself about who I am by helping me understand and accept the areas in my life that I may need help with regardless of societies view of mental health.” – Successful Brim, Founder & President

“Mental health is important because of the education, information, and awareness one can gain in order to help one’s issues or even issues pertaining to other people the individual might know. Some ways in which I take care of my mental health include going for walks and spending time with family. I believe that stigma surrounding mental health can be broken by speaking about it. The more we don’t speak of something, then more taboo it becomes. We need to normalize it so others can stop hiding behind the stigma and thus continue the cycle of fear when seeking resources or help.” – Deborah Prince, Vice President

“Mental health to me is every aspect of the way a person experiences life and is completely connected to their thoughts, emotions and reality. By doing things I enjoy. Prayer, getting out in nature, exercise, eating healthy foods, laughter, and surrounding myself around positive energy. By educating themselves on what mental health is and knowing that there is no shame in taking care of themselves mind, body and soul.” – Dr. Monica Caffey, Chair of the Board

“Everything about mental health is important. Knowing one’s mental health, investing in one’s mental health, understanding what mental health is, and accepting that one’s mental health contributes to every other aspect of their life. I am constantly evolving and with that being said my mental health regimen looks different based on what season I am in as it pertains to my life and what is happening around me. I utilize my spirituality and resources such as therapy, literature, leaning on my support system, and a lot of self-care to help me with my mental health. People can overcome the stigma of seeking help by joining the conversation about mental health and acquiring knowledge about what it means.” – Michelle Calvin, Board Member

“What I feel is important about mental health, is taking the opportunity to understand it impacts all of us. No matter how healthy you are physically to how successful you are in your career, your mental health is so vital and can be a difference maker in our lives. Understanding that developing my mental health is a process. I am learning to reflect more and be open to doing better versus being stuck in ‘my own ways.’ Working out, breathing, and being vulnerable is also key for me. Ways to overcome the stigma of seeking help is taking time to do the research for yourself. Understand that there is education and you have so much access within your reach.” – Trajuan Briggs, Social Media Director

“Mental health affects your physical health and your mind can get sick just like your body can. I practice self-care, self-love, boundaries, and fitness. Do what is best for you and not what society thinks is best for you. We are all unique and have different needs to reach our full potential.” – Jamie Johnson, Chair of the Education Committee

“Mental health is a journey to find out who we are as an individual, as a culture, and as a society. Mental health is much more than depression, anxiety, and the like. It is a process that allows us to view ourselves from outside ourselves; and although we may not always like what we see, mental health allows us to go through the process to change bits and pieces of ourselves on our journey to find out who we truly are. I try to maintain my mental health by reading, drawing, being with friends, talking to friends/family about my concerns, and by trying new things. I think the best way to overcome the stigma of mental health is to understand that although we would like others to understand what we are going through and empathize with us, such empathy may not always be given and instead of seeking empathy and understanding from others, we have to give it to ourselves first. We must understand that by agreeing with the stigma that surrounds mental health, we unintentionally reaffirm the stigma. We have to be the change that we want to see in society.” – Sheldon Maurice, Chair of the Ethics Committee

“I feel that a healthy mental state allows for sound decision-making  and appropriate response which is critical for your livelihood, safety, and maintaining/developing meaningful relationships to be self-sufficient within your family, community, and career.  I enjoy cooking for my family to my favorite music, organizing and attending social gatherings, shopping, and dancing. One thing I’ve always told clients, family, and friends is that if you attend the doctor for physical concerns why not seek help for your emotions. from The brain is how the physical body functions and of it is in any way affected, other parts of your body will be affected which in summary affects your life.” – Eka Child’s-McTear, Board Member

“Mindset is everything. It is what sets humans apart from animals. What gives us the ability to rationalize, act, and plan. Thus, Mental health is a pivotal foundation of human fulfillment. It is the inner knowing or self-awareness of your emotions and actions. It is important for us to find ways to maintain our mental health primarily for the purpose of our own survival and the prosperity of those we encounter. I am fortunate to be blessed with the uncanny ability to see the positive in every adverse situation. However, there are still times when I have feelings of stress, self-pity, and anxiety. This is why I take the time to reflect and meet with a clinician on a monthly basis. These sessions are extremely helpful in overcoming negative thoughts and emotions about myself.

By taking a step back and looking at what causes the negative thoughts around seeking help for mental issues. Thoughts are typically driven by one or a combination of 4 inputs:

  1. Media: what you read, see on TV/Social, or what you listen to daily
  2. Associations: the people you surround yourself with
  3. Self-talk: your personal conception of reality
  4. Experience: the acknowledgment of the perceived occurrence of an event and how that event correlates to your previous perceptions of patterns and phenomena.

Evaluating these inputs can help you justify your need to seek help or not. Barring what the world is saying, you have to look inward and build your own conscious understanding of your world as you see it.” – Todd Hughes, Chair of the Resource Committee

“Being able to address your mental health and acknowledge yourself in a vulnerable space is an important aspect of mental health. I believe this can shatter the personal thought of everyone around you being the only ones that have mental health issues. When I feel myself getting lost in my daily tasks, I tend to center myself by plugging in my headphones and putting on some of my favorite hip hop music. Classic artists like Jay-Z and Nipsey Hussle put my mind back into perspective when I feel lost and off track. People can overcome the stigma of seeking help by having talks with their closest friend or friends and explain how they feel in meaningful conversation. I believe to build the confidence of those seeking help to go and actually seek it.” – Shannon Myart, Board Member

“What I feel is important about mental health is that it is a part of who we are, it’s all about how we maintain our mental health! The way that I maintain my own mental health is by not ignoring any signs and symptoms of feeling any type of depression low points, etc. I take any time out that I need especially when I am feeling this way. I make sure that I take a day to myself, turn off my phone, stay off social media, even stay in pajamas all day if I need to. One way to overcome this stigma about mental health is to understand that mental health is a part of who we are It’s just about how we maintain our mental health. Understand there is no shame when you need to go and talk to someone to say you are not feeling well. we need to make sure that people understand that this is OK!” – Venus Chandler, Board Member

“I feel passionate about mental health and I think showing compassion for others, practicing awareness, and mindfulness is important about mental health. Also, distinguishing the difference between feelings and thoughts in order to increase our ability to be more self-aware. I maintain my own mental health by practicing mindfulness, self-awareness, and educating myself daily. One way people can overcome the stigma of seeking help is by understanding that information and help is free.” – Janina Daniels, Board Member

“There are a few things that I feel are important when it comes to Mental Health.  First and foremost, I feel that your mental health affects all aspects of your life. If you are healthy mentally, you can thrive in all other parts of your life, including spiritually, mentally, in your relationships, and work. I maintain my mental health by taking time to myself. I dedicate me time or date night and just enjoy my own company and focus on what I need to do for myself to be better. Whenever I do this, I come out feeling recharged and refreshed. You can overcome the stigma of seeking help by surrounding yourself with people who encourage you to live your truth.  I feel like the more we talk about things that require vulnerability and transparency, it is easier for us to encourage people around us to do the same. We just need to have the conversation more and MPN definitely facilitates and influences that as well.” – Diamond Larry, Chair of the Events Committee

“It is important to acknowledge that your own mental health will inevitably be unique to you; which will require you to be absolutely honest with yourself and your mental stability. Understanding and accepting your own personal circumstances will allow you to begin the next steps in becoming more mentally healthy. I maintain my mental health by keeping myself in a constant state of progression. I’ve found that stagnation and complacency have led me to become more depressed, so I make sure to keep myself busy and highlight tangible goals that I reach each and every day. I use research and self-reflection to accomplish this. Ultimately, you must make the decision to treat your mental health, however, it requires you to acknowledge there’s a problem to begin with. Most people do not seek help either because of their financial situation or fear of being socially ridiculed. People should do research of their feelings and join online support groups to help ease their way into finding professionals that can help them; this, however, begins with self-reflection and self-honesty.” – Brian Hesson, Marketing Director

What I believe and feel is important about mental health is education, advocacy and access. I believe the more information we have, the more compassionate and patient we are when dealing with individuals living with mental illness as well as being compassionate and patient with ourselves. Advocacy is extremely important to mental health because we need a sounding board to normalize mental health and remove the negative stigmas. Access is imperative to mental health because so many individuals do not have access to adequate health care and cannot afford good, quality treatment. We need a network of people that are driven and compelled to do the work. I try to utilize a variety of coping tools, such as working out, praying, and/or talk to someone I trust about how I’m feeling. I also take time for myself. I take myself to a movie, lunch or just hang out with some girlfriends. I read to wind down. I journal when I am trying to process my feelings, but do not feel like sharing my feelings with others. Sometimes I shut down and do nothing. One of the hardest things for me to do is to share personal and private details about my private life with strangers. Overcoming the stigma of seeking help is acceptance of self and acceptance of needing help; knowing and understanding that needing help is not interchangeable with weakness, failure or shame. Having someone I trust to accompany me to therapy or support groups is helpful because I feel supported. It is easy to isolate ourselves during emotionally challenging times and having someone with me empowers me. I think a really good tool MPN could create and offer to encourage people to ask for help is to connect them with a mental health sponsor. The mental health sponsor is similar to an alcohol or drug sponsor. When someone is experiencing really low moments, they don’t have to wait to schedule an appointment to talk to their therapist, but they can talk to a trained mental health sponsor to remind them of their coping tools. The sponsor and therapist can work together.” – Lefifia Lewis, Board Member