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Panelists at the Minding Your Mental seminar. (Picture by Marquayla Ellis)

Social X MKE started their homecoming week by tackling the serious topic of mental health at their Minding Your Mental seminar. Held at Rise and Grind café on Martin Luther King Dr., the event welcomed a distinguished panel of local professionals who discussed trends and concerns within the mental health field and black community.

The panel featured several professionals, David J. Cipriano, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Lakeisha Russell, licensed professional counselor for Evolving Chair Counseling and Consulting Agency; and Ambrose Wilson-Brown, founder of MISPIBO Fitness and certified health and fitness coach with moderator Oby Nwabuzor brand enthusiast and director at American Heart Association.

“Everybody has mental health, so why wouldn’t your mental health be the first thing that you focus on?” asked Russell.

The seminar addressed several major themes including, eliminating the stigma on mental health, burnout in the work place and incorporating mental health awareness in the black community.

The panel stated that when addressing the issue of mental health, individuals have to acknowledge that it is universal. They explained that mental health is like a spectrum everyone has it and it can be managed like physical health. However, on that same spectrum, mental illnesses can occur.

The Social X event was held at the Rise and Grind Café. (Picture by Marquayla Ellis)

“Mental health is not something we get to talk about in our communities, especially as millennials,” said active Social X participant Sierra Taliaferro. “Just being more proactive about what we can do to better ourselves, so that we are breaking the cycle of what mental health really is and what it does to our community in hopes to better ourselves, and maybe help someone else in the process.”

The lack of representation within health care professionals has also created concern for those seeking help with their mental health. Those within the black community, especially black men, carry generational trauma in most cases this trauma can’t be properly addressed by any professional. The mental health field is highly populated by woman and the lack of representation when seeking professionals can be a deterrent when finding the right therapist.

“Mental health has been a stigma for so long and to destigmatize it we need more people in the profession who look like us,” said Nwabuzor.

However, there are still ways to implement healthy self-care practices within one’s lifestyle. According to panelist Wilson-brown, morning ritual and practices can be helpful—such practices as stretching, meditating, working out, self-reflection and journaling. He also suggested setting boundaries like “saying no” more often and healthy breaks from social media.

The panel also addressed the overwhelming problem of burnout. According to the panel, burnout regularly goes unchecked but can be highly correlated with depression and anxiety with at least 80 percent of causes resulting from work-related institutions. Cipriano stated that some characteristics of burnout include a lack of effectiveness and loss of compassion with one’s job and workplace. But acknowledging these concerns and opening that dialogue between coworkers and work environment can be beneficial in preventing burnout.

Overall, the biggest issue the event highlighted was the negative stigma that remains when discussing mental health.

“The stigma is a huge piece, and its especially note-worthy in minority populations because it’s just another one of societies institutions that they have a healthy distrust of,” Cipriano said on the apprehension of black people and seeking medical help especially in regard to mental health.

Events like Minding Your Mental help alleviate negative stigmas surrounding mental health. By addressing self-care, proper health resources and dialogue, the more the conversation around mental health becomes normalizes. The panel explained that these actions add to the discussion and awareness of mental health.

Minding Your Mental was the beginning of full week of insightful and creative events. Social X presented several other events during the week including a finance seminar and 5k run and even a tour of the city.

To learn more about Social X and their Homecoming event visit https://socialxmke.com/.

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