MLK event sheds light on well-known stigma in many communities: mental health

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) — For the first time, Martin Luther King events in Myrtle Beach will tackle a huge stigma in so many communities: mental health.

The Carolina African American Heritage Foundation hosts the Health and Wellness Clinic during Grand Strand Freedom Week 2022, MLK Events.

The clinic will feature certified counselors and leaders who can start a conversation about improving mental health and the need for people to speak up if they need help.

These panelists include:

  • Dr Jessica Greene, Registered Professional Counselor and Private Practitioner on the Grand Strand
  • Alfreda Small, Licensed Professional Counselor for Small Counseling and Wellness LLC
  • Danielle Lewis, Founder of REACH Empowerment

Da’Vita Foushee is a correspondent and organizer of the MLK committee celebrations.

She says mental health is important, further saying now is the time for people to stop being afraid to talk about it.

Foushee says it’s timely to address this issue at MLK celebrations.

When you hear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, the discussions are often about civil rights and justice for all.

Historically, Foushee says there were so many people in the black community who suffered in silence, including the Reverend King.

“Like many of our ancestors,” Foushee said. “King became very disconnected from himself because he was part of something bigger. When you think of such a great man, okay, he couldn’t have been happy all the time.

It’s something she says many in the black community struggle with today.

“We have been told from generation to generation that the business of the house stays at home. But right now we have to get it out. Someone has to start talking about it because it won’t get better until you post it. As African American women, we are always considered the strongest. We are always seen as the ones who can keep taking the pressure and never break. We don’t talk about our problems. Sister, it’s time. Its good. Give yourself a little grace. It’s okay if you don’t feel well. Let someone know; you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore,” Foushee said.

That’s why the organizers of Grand Strand Freedom Week, MLK Events are taking a big step toward erasing the stigma.

“They will of course enter a safe space. Be their true authentic self. Being able to ask and get answers to any questions they have,” said Lewis, one of the panelists at the event.

Advisors and speakers added that the event allows everyone to speak openly about their experiences, which they say is a step in the right direction to break the taboo around mental health.

“If COVID didn’t teach us anything, it taught us that there are a lot of people who need our services,” Lewis said.

“Since COVID, when it slowed everything down, many times people have come forward and said they are dealing with trauma. It raised a lot of problems for people. It raised some anxiety, and anxiety can lead to depression, and I’ve helped others who work through those thoughts and feelings,” Small said.

“Right now, mental health issues, they’re not going anywhere,” Dr. Greene said. “There is too much going on in our society. Are you going to be afraid to talk about it? Yes. Are you going to feel that sense of shame, that sense of stigma? Yes. Will it test your vulnerability? Yes it is. But it’s time for us to face that fear and be brave and have those crucial conversations. Our goal is for it to become part of everyday conversation.

The health and wellness clinic is taking place Saturday, January 15 at the Boys & Girls Club of Myrtle Beach, located at 1000 Dunbar Street. The event will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Grand Strand Freedom Week events run from January 14-19.

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