Events this past year have left many of us with hopes to be seen, heard, and know that we matter. Yet, one could only look across the landscape of experiences and wonder, “Wow,”… and let’s be honest, even that word is an understatement. Black mental health has come to the forefront in ways that I genuinely stand in awe, as a mental health clinician, about how we are finally talking about something so significant.

Mental wellness has consistently taken a backseat, and many of us had been shamed and guilted not to speak of the things that trouble us when no one was around. Furthermore, emotional suppression has played a prominent role in diminishing our ability to express any emotion due to the perception of weakness or judgment. Well, no more. When this pandemic forced us into isolation and unplugged from the toxicity of the external world, this promoted a time of self-discovery and has allowed us to see the beauty of the human spirit and how we desire to transcend unfortunate circumstances, which is very encouraging.

Many of us are beginning to talk about our mental health openly and are taking the opportunity to start putting words to feelings and are taking active steps to break the bonds of non-expression. Self-awareness and self-discovery shed light on the keen awareness of our human footprint and what we are experiencing. And building on this is a conscious exploration of all that is happening and asking, “what gives me meaning?”.

Self-care is a critical component to creating meaning in our lives, connecting with our purpose, and finding harmony with our being and the world around us. It is the most primary relationship we have. It is also the one that is most imperative to protecting ourselves from the suffering and distress that often invade our very being if we leave ourselves unprotected. Thus, self-care more specifically refers to the activities and care taken on your behalf to promote the betterment of personal wellness in the realms of our biological, sociological, psychological, and spirituality.

When you invest in self-care, you can extend loving kindness to yourself in ways that nurture the longest relationship that you will ever have. It promotes mindfulness to “allow for” and “accept that” certain things will happen; however, we get to give ourselves self-compassion, which is permission and grace given in the midst of our perceived shortcomings and uncertainty. Doing so promotes the opportunity to explore and experience the fullness of your humanity. Self-care is a call to action; it requires you to make conscious and deliberate steps in promoting your wellness. It takes patience and consistency, and while I may date myself a bit, it is not an “Easy Bake Oven”; you can’t set it and forget it!

The journey to personal wellness requires struggle and resiliency; however, I think the most beautiful thing about who we are as flawed beings is that we learn something about ourselves; we uncover hidden capacities that we didn’t know existed. We find out that we have immeasurable strength that is innately our own. Cheers to your wellness in this Mental Health May!

Contributed by Rossina Schroeer-Santiago, MA, LPC, LAC, NCC, GCDF, CIGT
Founder, Therapist of Color Collaborative