Tag Archives: #mentalhealth

Mental Health and African Americans: Breaking the Tradition of Silence

New York Amsterdam News

Chirlane McCray | First Lady of New York City | 7/30/2015

A short time ago, I was at an event, talking to some very smart people about what we can do to address our mental health crisis. The conversation proceeded smoothly, right up until the moment an African American woman suggested her own theory as to why so many of our young people struggle with mental health conditions. “Maybe,” she said, “the next generation isn’t tough enough. Maybe they’ve had it too easy.”

I wish I could say that I was shocked—but I wasn’t. For generations we have held on to a tradition of toughing it out. We have been reluctant to admit that, like people in every other community in this world, we know the pain of mental illness.

Our reluctance is understandable. The survival of our people has required us to never give anyone an excuse to call us weak. And so we bury our anguish deep within ourselves; we keep our business behind closed doors. We wait it out.

Despite our best intentions, this pattern of silent suffering has sentenced far too many African Americans to lifetimes of solitary torment. I saw this firsthand with my father. Robert McCray was a veteran of World War II. Along with my mother, he created a beautiful and stable home for my siblings and me. But he was never able to enjoy his hard-earned success as much as he should have.

My father suffered from depression, but he wouldn’t have called it that. In fact, he never said a word about the chronic sadness he experienced. But I know it was there. I know his life would have been better if he had talked about it and was able to get some help.

Sadly, my father’s story may be all too familiar to many of you. Today, African Americans are 20 percent more likely than their white counterparts to report experiencing serious psychological distress.

This is not a surprise, because we are also more likely to be exposed to risk factors like poverty, discrimination and instability. The trauma of racism is real, and it can have a deep and destructive effect on our minds.

But despite the many risk factors we face, African Americans are 40 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment or counseling in the past year. It all adds up to a disturbing reality: Millions of African Americans suffer from a mental health condition in isolation, which means they are suffering far more than necessary. Because the good news is that mental health issues are treatable. The challenge before us now is to come together as a community and achieve two connected goals:

We must build an effective mental health system.
We must start telling each other that to seek help for a mental health condition is not an act of weakness—it is an act of strength.

That’s how we, as a people, should be thinking about mental health. We must put aside our old notions and create a world where getting treatment for anxiety is no more difficult than getting treatment for allergies. Our daughters and our sons—and our fathers and our mothers—are counting on us.

Chirlane McCray is the First Lady of New York City. Her Urban Agenda column is sponsored by the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers for more than 170 years. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. The Urban Agenda is available on CSS’s website: http://www.cssny.org.

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care

Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. During those long hours, the office setting either promotes good mental health or contributes to poor emotional well-being. Despite the large role that office culture plays in employee well-being, most companies rarely – if ever – mention the subject of mental health.

Employers certainly can’t prevent all mental health problems. Genetics and past traumatic experiences are just a couple of the factors that can influence a person’s mental health. But there are steps employers can take to reduce stress and promote resilience.

The Cost of Mental Health Problems to Employers

Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.

Employees with untreated mental illness cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services. Additionally, mental illness and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

Employees are Stressed Out

A new survey by Buck Consultants at Xerox XRX +0.44% found that 84% of employers report believing they have a high responsibility to provide a working environment that promotes mental well-being. The survey found that employee performance is the most important reason organizations want to address work-related stress and poor mental well-being.

Despite employers’ good intentions to promote mental well-being, the survey found that that 53 percent of U.S. respondents rate their stress levels as above average, with 33 percent saying that stress has increased in their organizations over the last five years. Stress is a major factor that can influence a person’s mental health and can contribute to problems such as depression and anxiety.
Treatment for Mental Health Problems

When people are diagnosed with physical health problems – like diabetes or heart disease – they don’t wait to seek in treatment in hopes their illness will disappear on its own. Yet, most mental health problems go untreated for years. Unfortunately, without treatment mental health problems may get worse, making them more difficult to treat.

The good news is, most mental health problems are very treatable. The bad news is, there are several barriers that prevent people from getting treatment. Many people fail to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. There’s also still a stigma associated with seeking treatment for mental health problems. And for many people, treatment simply isn’t affordable.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an Opportunity

People aren’t either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum. An organization’s culture and policies can greatly influence where employees fall on the continuum. Providing a healthy work environment assists people in being at their best.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to consider what steps they want to take to promote mental well-being in the workplace. Implementing resilience-building and stress awareness programs are just a few of the ways companies can promote positive well-being in the workplace. For more tips, check out my previous article, How to Foster Good Mental Health in the Workplace.

ENTREPRENEURS 5/20/2015 @ 10:15AM 3,571 views

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.

WHEN TO REFER? A checklist for what situations requires referral. Prov. 1:1-3

 It is essential that pastors working with the mentally ill: 1) get enough clinical pastoral education—or attend workshops with other professionals—where you will discover the usual reasons that a referral must be made, and 2) discover by experience or in a clinical course the amount of anxiety that will prompt a referral.
One of the quickest ways to feel confident about a referral is to analyze your own anxiety. Remember, in your first meeting with a person in trouble, it is not only the counselee’s anxiety that must be managed but also your own anxiety as well.
What are the areas of living in which you feel more comfortable in discussions with someone who needs help, and other areas in which you must make a referral to a more specialized or professionally competent helper? When a church staff of 20 people considered areas of personal concern, they made the following distinctions:

Almost always refer:

  • Questions about the mysteries of life that have medical implications, such as abortion, unplugging a life support system, or deciding whether or not to get pregnant against medical advice.
  • Behavior or situation that is scary or really peculiar like the young man who sat staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, then said he was finished with life. His father was with him and said the son had just bought a 38-caliber revolver.
  • The husband who says there’s nothing wrong with him sexually, even though his wife is sitting right there and says that he demands a separate bedroom, and spends every weekend and all his vacation time with an unmarried friend down the street.
  • The daughter who starts yelling at her mother, “You’re ruining my life,” when the mother says in anguish that she just wants to keep her daughter out of a known drug dealer’s “safe house.”

Often refer:

  • People who say they keep waking up with a nameless dread that weighs on them all day long.
  • Couples who ask for prayer to keep their marriage together and then hurl verbal abuses at each other until you get one of them out of the room.
  • A single mother who confesses that she spends most of the nights in tears, most of the day avoiding people at work, and yelling at her children in the evening.
  • Lonely and pious church members who say they have committed the unpardonable sin, or behave like they have.
  • People who raise questions in areas where they need help now, but we may not be experts in areas such as legal matters, what kind of job to look for, or how to get on welfare.

Sometimes refer:

  • People who ask about the meaning of life but aren’t able to be more specific about their concerns
  • People who say they can’t forgive.
  • Pain and suffering beyond anything we have ever been called on to bear.
  • A friend who says she prays and prays but has no hope for the hereafter.


  1. How has your own anxiety impacted previous counseling relationships? How would you go about analyzing and managing your own anxiety before entering a counseling situation?
  2. Do these distinctions of when to always, often, and sometimes refer match up to your experience? Which would you place in different categories? What kinds of situations would you never or rarely hesitate to serve as the key counselor?
  3. Are these kinds of distinctions communicated to others in your ministry who counsel or refer people? If not, what is your plan for discussing and communicating these distinctions?

—Roger Hesuer and Samuel Southard are professors of Church Leadership Studies at Vanguard University of Southern California; adapted from Caregiving Leadership (CMR Press, 1999); © 1999 CMR Press. Used by permission.

Why the name Centurion Strong?




We here at Centurion Strong Mental Health Alliance (CSMHA) want you to know that we are very excited to work within our faith communities and local community services and providers in bringing awareness of mental health, mental illness, and suicide. We are now in the position to have CSMHA blog. And we want to hear from you!

We are constantly asked where did the name Centurion Strong come from. I can say it came directly from God, years before I knew I would be doing this type of work.  He had already in planted in me what was needed to birth this organization.

The story of the Centurion that came to Jesus, knowing he wasn’t worthy, but asked Jesus to heal his servant. He must have cared for this servant greatly, to come to Jesus (a Jew) on behalf of his servant.

The Centurion acknowledged the power and authority of Jesus and believed if Jesus would just speak the word of healing his servant would be saved.  After speaking the word of healing, Jesus looked out toward the crowd and spoke of the Centurion’s great faith, that he (Jesus) had not found in all of Israel.

Centurion Strong Mental Health Alliance is based upon this ‘great faith’ in Jesus. Recognizing He is a healer and in Him all things are possible.  Because we recognize and acknowledge His grace towards us, we work within our faith communities, bringing training, resources, education and support for those with mental illness in their congregations.

Does Your Pastor Know…

  • One in four persons sitting in our pews has a family member struggling with mental health issues
  • 60% of individuals with a mental health issue first go to a spiritual leader for help
  • Studies show that clergy are the least effective in providing appropriate support and referral information

We would love to hear from you. Do you have family members with a mental illness? Do you have a mental illness? Do you feel safe to be able to talk with your pastor regarding your diagnosis? What would you need, from your faith leaders, to know on how to better support you? Are you a Faith Leader who wants to know more about supporting your total congregation in regards to mental illness?

We are sharing the passages below of the Centurion’s story.

Matthew 8:5-10

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Luke 7:8-9

For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel

Legina Deaver

Centurion Strong Mental Health Alliance





Feel free to email me at Ldeaver@centurionstrong.net, or visit our website at www.centurionstrong.net.

We can also be found on twitter @Centurionstron1 and Facebook at Centurion Strong.