Last week we touched on mental illness, and this week we’re talking about mental health and how to preserve it because it really is so critical to your overall well-being. Mental health plays a part in your relationships, finances and wealth, and in your faith too. It’s also part of the first pillar of Redefining Wealth.
Typically when I talk about the FIT pillar, people assume I’m talking about being physically fit, and although that is a part of the pillar, being mentally fit is often more important.
In today’s episode, I sit down with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, founder of Therapy for Black Girls and a licensed psychologist in Atlanta, as we unpack mental health. Here, we discuss the basics of mental health and when it’s best to see a therapist and what you can expect from the experience.
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About Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
Dr. Joy is a licensed psychologist in the state of Georgia. Her specialty includes working with Black women in both individual and couples counseling. Her primary areas of interest include break-up and divorce recovery, depression, work-life balance, relationship skills and self-esteem improvement.
She also has considerable knowledge in working with undergraduate and graduate students in areas including procrastination, stress management, dissertation/thesis support and career development.
Dr. Joy created Therapy for Black Girls as an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. So often the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevent Black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist. As such, Dr. Joy developed the space to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is comparable to our physical health – it’s something we all have. So when we get check-ups, have blood work done, exercise and eat right, we’re doing things to take care of ourselves physically. Mental health, on the other hand, often gets forgotten because many people don’t realize that it’s also something they need to take care of.
“Mental health encompasses our emotions and how we experience things. It often feels intangible, but is very important in our lives.” – Dr. Joy
Historically, the African American culture has been one where you couldn’t or shouldn’t share certain types of information with other people. Reasoning for this often meant it was for survival purposes or for life, work or social opportunities in business or in the community.
And while it made sense back then, now we’ve come to realize that leaving things bottled up inside is not healthy.
Having said that, therapy is still difficult for a lot of people. People still struggle with the idea of sharing about their childhood and family and that’s often because they’ve been raised to not talk about those things.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a diagnosed psychiatric condition. This can be any conditions such as a major depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. With any of these there are a specific set of symptoms that impact your life in significant ways – that’s why they’re classified as a mental illness.
Therapy for general things, however, is usually not a full-blown mental illness. So if you’re feeling anxious about a new job or an upcoming interview that’s not necessarily an anxiety disorder.
Another example is if you want to be more assertive in your relationships, again, not necessarily a mental illness, but something you can certainly see a therapist for.
Is It Time to Find a Therapist?
Therapy is useful when dealing with life issues – from anxiety about a new job to how you show up or want to show up in your relationships. So how do you know when it’s the right time to talk to a therapist versus praying or talking to your girlfriends?
According to Dr. Joy, there’s nothing wrong with praying, talking to your girlfriends and talking to a therapist. Usually though, many people put off talking with a therapist because they think therapy is something you only do in a crisis.
But the reality is you can be talking with a therapist long before any crisis happens.
“Therapy isn’t always for a crisis. Oftentimes, if you talk to a therapist in those early stages, you can prevent something from escalating.” – Dr. Joy
So, are you doing yourself a disservice by not making therapy a part of your lifestyle? Tune in to the podcast to find out with Dr. Joy says.
How to Choose the Right Therapist
According to Dr. Joy, the “right therapist” is someone you feel comfortable discussing personal, often private topics with. These are sometimes things you haven’t ever shared with anyone – not your mother, spouse or best friends. So it’s going to be very important for you to trust the person with that information.
You also want to make sure to find someone who has specific expertise in working with the condition or concern you’re coming to them with. For instance, if you have an eating disorder, you’d want to look for someone who has expertise in that area or someone who has done additional training in eating disorders. This way you know you’re going to someone who has the best chance of treating you.
“At its core, a therapeutic relationship is like any other relationship in your life, except that you’re not hanging out after the session.” – Dr. Joy
Now, Dr. Joy shared some eye-opening insight about finding the right therapist that you’ll have to tune in to catch, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this valuable nugget:
When choosing a therapist, the biggest thing is feeling 100% comfortable and being able to trust them.
If you think you need support or you have questions about therapy, please visit Dr. Joy’s site, Therapy for Black Girls – it’s an incredible resource.
Redefining Wealth Rapid Wisdom Questions
And with that, let’s dig into Dr. Joy’s responses to our Redefining Wealth Rapid Wisdom Questions.
“Being able to make my own rules and live life the way I want.”
Define Wealth in 3 Words or Less:
“Health, family and vacation.”
One Book that Has Redefined How You See Wealth:
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
Fill-in the Blanks … “My name is ___ and the truth about wealth is ___”:
“My name is Dr. Joy and the truth about wealth is that it is individual for each person.”
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