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Episode 25: WOKE Mental Health w/ William Barabino

March 22, 202228 min read


There’s more to mental health than taking a mental health day! It’s time to get to the root of the problem with William Barabino Why is it hard for the Black and Brown communities to reach out for help? Let’s examine why seeking help isn’t failure, but instead, the start of success! FIND OUT WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO ON YOUR RE: WOKE JOURNEY


Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello, my conscious and inquisitive tribe and welcome to revoke rewriting our kids education podcast. On today's episode, we are going to be talking about mental health and not just taking a mental health day here or there. No we're going to tackle head on the fact that in many black and brown homes, the mental health discussion is a big no-no and our communities we're allowed to talk about. Who's cheating on who, how the fast girl from around the corner is dealing with men twice her age, and about the fact that Mr. Williams from down the street takes his entire paycheck and blows up the liquor store before he even goes home. But God forbid, we talk about the root cause of that infidelity, the insecurities that are leading up to that young girl's promiscuity or the self-medication that Mr. Williams is doing by drinking two, six packs every night. Today, we're going to be talking about the reasons why our community finds it so difficult to ask for help and examining the fact that it doesn't make us failures to seek help. According to the anxiety and depression association of America African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population. I think it's time to have the hard conversation folks and oh yeah. Are you woke Speaker 0 00:01:47 Our guest today is William Bera Beano, a behavior health specialist who works with young children and adolescents who are struggling with a variety of mental health issues. He has some insight on why as a community. We tend to shy away from talking about mental health, what we can do to create a new normal and some tips on how to get us started William bear, Beano, thank you so much for coming on with me today and talking about this very, very important topic of mental health. Um, before we get started, I want you to tell everybody who's listening. Um, tell me about your background. Tell us about your background. What led you to a career in mental health? Speaker 2 00:02:26 Absolutely. So I have a wide background and mental health and social services. This lasted about 12 and a half years now. Um, my desire and compassion stemmed from me being a child in need of services. Um, so growing up in foster care, experiencing my own personal traumas that, and now being a parent, um, but overall, just being a young African-American male, um, I found that there was a need in our community for us to be representing more. Speaker 0 00:02:54 Um, now you, you are a behavior health specialist. Can you tell our listeners what that is? Exactly. Speaker 2 00:03:00 Yeah. So I'm, I'm behavioral health specialists. And so what I do is I primarily focus on psychoeducation skills for children and families who struggle with suicidal and homicidal ideations. And so we are CBT and DBT based learning. And so what we do is we teach them skills to help prevent, um, some of those relapses and those suicidal ideations. Speaker 0 00:03:22 So one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on is because here at rework, our goal is to not only rethink how we look at education, how we look at math, how we look at reading and history and social studies. Um, I want us also to rethink what we've been taught about every aspect of life. Um, and one aspect of life that we often are either misinformed about or not informed about at all, is, is that of mental health. And I think for a lot of black and brown families, we have this resistance within us to not want to seek out help for the very intense and scary things that you talk about that you have dealt with and that you do. Now, you talked about people with sight, uh, suicidal ideations. You talked about people who are, you know, wanting to harm themselves are having trouble with impulse control you. Speaker 0 00:04:19 Those are real actual issues that in the black and brown community, we just want to be like, you know, we, we often want to push it off and say things like they just need, you know, they, they just, they need Jesus or they need to go to the church. They need to pray harder or it's their parents' fault. They, you know, they, they need, they need to be loved on more at no point, do we ever want to have that hard conversation about really looking at our mental health, giving the skills and, um, trying to change some of those behaviors and take control of them. Why do you think that is? Why do you think that there's such a resistance and our communities for seeking assistance for medical issues, mental health specifically? Speaker 2 00:05:02 Yeah, I think it'd be very transparent to be black and white. A lot of black and brown families felt like therapies for white people. So those who struggle with suicidal ideations, that's a white people thing. It's all, we don't talk about that because black people in black brown people, we don't deal with that. And to validate that I can definitely say that therapy was made in a time where people who are black and brown weren't even seen as humans. And so a lot of the studies that we have, a lot of people would argue, well, maybe that's not even, maybe it wasn't built with the intention to serve someone who looks like us. And the reality is that you're a hundred percent, right? The, it was not intentionally made to serve people who are black and people who are brown simply because they were not seen as humans. Speaker 2 00:05:49 They were seen as animals. They were seen as individuals who were designed and created to serve. But now, you know, we're 200 odd years later, African-American and people who are over the Latino community or people who are other ethnicity that is not Eastern European. Now we're seen as individuals. Now we're seen as those doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, pastors. And so now we're at a time where mental health is so important, simply because we were taught. If we go to church, if we pray that our suicidal ideations will go away, that our negative thoughts will go away, therapy says, you can still go to church. You can still pray. However, how about we teach you some skills to help combat those times where you were churches not available? How about we give you some skills where you don't feel like praying and so therapy teaches us that you can balance your religious base life, your religious base life. You can still balance your family traditions and still learn new therapeutic skills to help combat some of those negative thoughts. Speaker 0 00:06:55 What do you say to those people who would still say that, like you said, it at the, at the very beginning of when you began, you said that it was not intended for us and developed for us. So how can it now be for us is, is how, how, how can these therapies in these strategies work for us if they were not designed with us in mind? What would you say to that? Speaker 2 00:07:18 Yeah, my number response to any black or brown family member that says that including my own family, um, is simple reading and writing. Wasn't attended for us as well. So us learning American traditions, it was never intended for this as well. And so the beautiful thing about therapy is that it's everything that we're teaching is clinically and psychologically proven. Therefore it has no skin color to it. So even though it didn't have the intentions of teaching black and brown people, studies base the theories off of like their, their range of success. And so like, do you have the validity, the validity, or do you have the reliability to say that CBT or DBT is going to be able to be effective for these families and it's proven to be accurate? Speaker 0 00:08:08 So what I'm hearing is the bottom line is because the process or the thought process behind therapy ultimately was to help humans. And because we are humans, we are also able to benefit from the things that we now have gleaned that one can get from therapy. Is that a fair statement? Speaker 2 00:08:27 Absolutely. Speaker 0 00:08:29 Awesome. So in your work as a behavior health specialist, um, you, you primarily work, I believe with young children, not young children, but younger adults. Adolescents, is that correct? Speaker 2 00:08:40 Yeah. It ranges from, um, 12 to 17 years old. Speaker 0 00:08:45 Okay. What are the most common mental health trends that you are seeing right now? Speaker 2 00:08:50 I'm going to say, I think that trends is very difficult to describe. I say that, like, we have a lot of individuals who come in who have like a severe amount of trauma that they're still negatively affected by. I can also tell you that there are a huge population of individuals who come in to, to receive services who have actively self harm for years. There's a mixture of kids who come in, who are very hypersensitive, who have lot of anxiety who have a lot of like panic attacks. But then there's also a lot of kids who developmentally are just going through a lot and they're questioning their own reality in which induces some of those, some of those thoughts in their heads, whether am I meant to be here, am I meant to be mailed? Am I meant to be female? And so I think because of those things, they internalize those thoughts and they say, well, because I don't have an answer for that right now. I don't deserve to live. Speaker 0 00:09:48 Okay. I see. Um, that is deep. Um, and there was a moment in time where I thought about, um, going into mental health. And I can say that the, the people who work in mental health on a daily basis grappling with those types of issues and questions and helping pull people out of that type of despair is definitely something that I, I applaud you because that takes a toll, um, to have to go in every day and try to fight that fight. Um, but part of my, which leads me kind of into my next question is at the beginning of that answer, you spoke of trauma. And you know, you, obviously you went on and talked about a lot of the other issues or trends that you're seeing, but you started with that trauma. And I think that the one thing that we can all agree is that black and brown families tend that have, we feel like we own the trauma market. Speaker 0 00:10:40 Like we, we tend to laugh about it and we want to, and we, we, we end the, the adage is that you take your trauma and you turn it into your pain and you'd be strong. Um, but, um, I think there are two things that I want to ask you. One, I want to flesh out what is considered trauma, because that is a big word. And trauma is from, in my experience, you can give me, you can let me know, um, if this is an adequate definition, but trauma is any life event that impacts you negatively for a short or in sometimes in cases of very long elongated period of time. W w how would you define trauma before we go into, you know, how would you define it? Bitly Speaker 2 00:11:25 Phonetically trauma is an emotional response to an absolute terrible event period. What she defined to be terrible. And what I define to be terrible could be completely different. And so I've had a child come in, their trauma, was seeing their dog get ran over versus a child who has been abused for several years. And so, like one thing that I always point out when it comes to trauma, or when it comes to like defining people's events that they've experienced is that you can drown and 2000 feet of water, you can also drown in two feet of water, Simply meaning that that two feet of water can still be life or death to you compared to that 2000 feet. And so that child who saw their dog died may be two feet of water, but guess what? That two 50 water could have still killed them. Speaker 0 00:12:22 So I think that, that, that's important to finding what trauma is. And thank you for that very great analogy. I think the defining trauma is really important because a lot of times, I think black and brown families, we want to either laugh off or push off or say that, oh, that wasn't that bad. So the idea that no it's as bad for it, bad is in the eye of the beholder. What is bad to you might not be bad to me, but that doesn't mean it's not real. Um, and, and so if you're looking at the idea of trauma from that vantage point, from the vantage point, that no trauma is any experience that you have had, that you had a negative reaction to that caused you duress, that caused you harm. I think that now, if that's what we can accept is the definition of trauma. Speaker 0 00:13:10 Then I think we can also accept that black and brown people in general, we do have a lot of trauma, some of the generational, some of it, a systematic racism, some of it just by virtue of the neighborhoods in which we live, which make us more susceptible to certain things. So if we recognize that trauma is real, that it is 100% dependent upon who's experiencing to define what is and is not trauma. And it is a thing, how do we get people to understand that it is okay to own their trauma, call it trauma and not just, you need to, you need to pull yourself up. You need to be harder. You need to be more, you need to be more, um, and you had to have, uh, develop more of a thick skin, recognize it, own it, and then seek help to figure out how to get past it. How do we do that? Speaker 2 00:14:06 I think the first step is understanding that trauma has no face. We look at the word trauma, and we automatically look at someone who was white. Someone who was very tearful, someone who is very sad and depressed trauma can look like my face and trauma can look like your face. And I think that if we take a step back and we're able to say that every single individual has encountered some form of trauma, that could be our first step to normalizing it. I think that a lot of groups, not only, you know, black and brown communities, even certain aspects of white communities, we do a great job with invalidating people's trauma by simply saying, well, I went, I've been through this though. So yes, you may have experienced child abuse, however, but I experienced child abuse and sexual abuse. Okay, well that does it. That doesn't mean that, that person's trauma isn't relevant. Speaker 2 00:15:02 It doesn't mean that that person's trauma is not validated. And so I think that if we take a step back and we're able to understand that my trauma belongs to me, that will one, give me the power to do something with that trauma. But then two it'll help me reduce the chances of trauma bonding, which is something that is so big within our communities. And so trauma bonding is all about, um, like that deep, emotional attachment that simply like develops a relationship. So because you may have experienced some kind of abuse and I experienced some kind of abuse, and then we realize that man, every time we're together, we always talk about this abuse. Well, that's because we're trauma bonding. We are becoming very instinct based upon our trauma. Like that becomes a root of our relationship. And the problem with that though, is that say, if you decide what, Hey, I think I'm going to go to therapy, or I think I'm going to seek some kind of counsel ship. You ended up getting better, but now me and you have nothing to talk about. So what happens to me? Okay, well then I started hating you and then I start hating myself. And then what does that do for me causes even more trauma. Speaker 2 00:16:12 And so I think that if we just take a step back and see that anybody can fall victim of trauma and also believe that anybody can grow and learn and benefit from the trauma, I think that we can be able to normalize it as well. Speaker 0 00:16:27 So while we're normalizing it, how do we also then be proactive so that we can, when we see these issues that you mentioned earlier in our talk, when we're seeing these issues of self-harm and we're seeing these issues of, of anger, we're seeing these questioning, these insects of existential questioning of where is my place in the world? What am I am I meant to be a boy or a girl? How, how did, where w or, or when the dog has run over, or when the parents have gotten divorced, or when, you know, there has been some form of abuse, um, while we're, while we are a recognizing, as we've recognized that there is some trauma, we are working on normalizing it. So we don't do the trauma bonding. How can we be proactive to recognizing I think in a lot of ways that I think trauma is going to happen, everybody in their life, I think is going to experience some type of trauma, some traumatic experience at that some point in their life, how do we build our kids up so that when they are faced with whatever their trauma is going to be an only, they can not determine what's going to be their trauma, because trauma is the face of whoever is looking at it. Speaker 0 00:17:34 How can we proactively like, build them up so that they have the tools to be able to deal with it? Speaker 2 00:17:42 Yeah. I think the first thing that as parents that we have to do is understand that it's okay for our children to feel all the fields. I think we, especially as a community of color, we only share the attention to our children. If they are misbehaving, we don't give them permission to say, Hey, are you upset at daddy? Are you upset at mommy? It's okay to be upset. It's okay to cry. And so I think that what we ended up doing though, is that we teach them that no, you can not be angry. No, you can not be sad. No, you can not be depressed. No, you can not be in a bad mood. And we teach them that by showing them ways of aggression, it's almost like I tell my child, you need to be nice, but yeah, I'm yelling at them when I do it. So us as parents, we have to do a better job with allowing our children to be human beings as well. We sometimes teach our children that they are not human, that they are individuals who follow and do what we say. Speaker 2 00:18:54 And because of that, it invalidates how they feel as children and which manifests to how they feel as adults when they face trauma. And so then when our daughters go to college and they have no friends and they're by themselves, and then they get that one best friend who betrays them, they will know how to handle themselves because as their children were taught and we're going to teach them that you have to accept that not everyone is going to be your friend and that everyone is going to have your best interests, but you know what you know, who will mommy and daddy. And so being able to like normalize, but I don't want to say normalized trauma, but normalized disappointment and giving our children tools and opportunities to move and to develop and to grow from those unfortunate almost circumstances. Speaker 0 00:19:44 So what I, what I heard to paraphrase is the most important part is for what I heard was as a parent lesson I'm taking away is allow them to feel the first of the first step in all of that is to allow them to recognize that they are human, their emotions are valid. And instead of telling them that their emotions are wrong, help them learn how to process them that way. When they do experience trauma, they are able to recognize it as such and seek support. That's what I think I heard. Is that a fair statement? Speaker 2 00:20:17 Absolutely. Speaker 0 00:20:20 Awesome. Well, I'm glad I, I, this, I think that is so powerful. I mean, as, as I'm also a parent, as a mother who has, has an adult child, um, that I I'm reflecting back on and wish I had been able to do things different. And as a mother who has also a four-year-old, who is trying to be actively different so that I can not make some of the left turns that I made with my 19 year old. Um, I think that's a very powerful piece of information. I think that definitely allowing them to, to be in their feelings and helping them process through. So like you said, when they experiencing it, they recognize that it's an, it is okay to face it. It is okay to process. And even to, like you said, seek a self space, a safe space, mommy and daddy RSL, a safe space. Speaker 0 00:21:07 Let me seek out a safe space to help me process what I'm feeling. I think those are great. Great, great tips. Um, William, do you have any, um, tips or resources that you can share with parents? If they want to learn more about helping their children sit in their feelings more, if they want to learn about, you know, where to go, if they feel like their child has experienced trauma and they want to be able to be a support to them, um, do you have any resources or tips or strategies or places that you can point parents to find support? Speaker 2 00:21:39 Okay. The biggest advice I would give parents is that how they treat themselves is going to be a mirror reflection of how their children are going to treat themselves as well. And so parents have to give themselves grace. They have to understand that, yes, they can be mom. They can be the doctor. They can be the lawyer. They can be the provider fathers. They can be the provider. They can be the husband. They can be all these things as well, but first they are who they are. So first Michelle, you are Michelle first. And I think that it's important that parents are able to say, Hey, I am will before I am dead. Meaning I have to respect myself enough to understand that if I'm not good, my children can't be good. If I am not happy, if I don't know what I have to do to make myself happy, how on earth can I teach that for my children? Speaker 2 00:22:36 And so that's the first advice I would give parents is that how you treat yourself is going to be a mere reflection of how your children would treat themselves. And so be kind to yourself. Second thing that I would say is understand that your children receiving services, whether it's group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, whether it's a mentorship club, doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you a conscious parent. It makes you a parent that's intentional and it makes you a parent. That's very humble parents. We don't know, we don't know what we're doing. Like there's no book that says how to raise Chi. There is no book that says how to raise Gabriel and Dakota. Those are three different individuals who have three different aspects of perceptions of life. And so because of that, us as parents, we gotta be extremely intentional with the things that we do and the things that we say. Speaker 2 00:23:34 But also we gotta be intentional with the help that we provide them as well. I understand that daddy can not be there all the time. I understand that. And I have to also understand that because daddy can't be there all the time. Daddy has to truly trust the individuals. Who's going to be around my children to teach them how to love people, how to love themselves, how to respect the environment around them. And I think that parents, we have to take a step back and understand that it truly does take a village. I cannot, I cannot raise these kids on my own. So their teacher has to help me. My pastor has to help me, you know, uncle Julian has to help me teach him. Michelle has to help me. And so I think it's important that we take a step back to see that, like, I can not do this alone. Speaker 2 00:24:22 And I think the, especially within the brown and the black community is that we're taught that once we have children, your life is over and it's all about them. And I'm like, if y'all really think about that and take a step back and think, is that really okay? Is that okay? If I'm like, yo, I wanted to be a surgeon my whole entire life, but I had a child and now I'm not doing that. Is that okay for me to tell my child that how would my child feel if I told them that I had dreams that I wanted to pursue? However, I was told that once I had a parent, my dreams were no longer important that doesn't do nothing but instill guilt for my child and resentment from me to my child. We've got to take a step back and we've got to get rid of some of those generational curses that says, because I have children. My life is no longer when rarely because you have children, your life is now enhanced. So now my children are my motivation to get to my goals. So my children will never be a reason why Speaker 0 00:25:28 100%. So where, what, what are, are there, are there websites? Is there a book they should be reading? Are, is there a blog? They should be checking out. Um, what, where can parents learn more about, you know, making sure that we, a self care B create these children who are able to be reflective and self-aware, um, and see, seek this help, like where if we need help, where do we go to seek it? Speaker 2 00:25:55 Yeah. First thing I would definitely recommend is the national suicide prevention lifeline. And so these are for parents and also among adolescents, teenagers who are struggling with suicidal ideations. And they feel as if they don't have a resource, definitely utilize that hotline. They even do have texting that they offer as well. If you're in the middle of a crisis, next thing I would also recommend is going to like your local county, seeing what opportunity that they have for families. Not every child needs therapy. I am such a huge advocate that not everybody needs therapy, but everybody needs family. And so sign up your kids for those extra activities, sign them up for a YMCA mentorship program, sign them up for some activities that they can do within the community. Because we talk about like these depressive symptoms, depressive symptoms, keep you at home depressive symptoms, keep you in the bed. Speaker 2 00:26:48 Depressive symptoms, keep you from your friends, from your family. And so parents, even if you guys feel like, oh man, I don't know if my child needs therapy or not. Okay. Well, if you see that they're isolating, let's practice some opposite action, which is a skill. So opposite act is when we identify the symptoms, we identify the feeling and then we literally do the opposite of those things. And so, Hey, my baby, doesn't want to get out of bed. Cool together. We're going to go to the gym together. We're going to take a walk. And so understanding that like there's small things that you can do as parents, but then if you're like, Hey, these things aren't working, please, please, please, please, please go on. You can go online. You can be able to look up different kinds of therapy that you first would think would benefit. I think oftentimes we teach families to go to specific agencies to sign their children up. But I think it's important that parents and children are able to educate themselves with what kind of therapy is going to be good for them. Are they going to do well individually or they're going to do positive and group therapy? Are they going to do great with family therapy or maybe all of the above? I think it's important that families make that decision first. Speaker 0 00:27:59 Thank you so much, William. I think that all of those were great. 100% awesome tips. We will put some links to the, um, the agencies and the hotlines you mentioned, um, in the show notes. So if you were interested in exploring any of those, please, 100% gold bear and check it out. William, thank you again for your time. Um, and this has been really helpful. Speaker 2 00:28:22 Absolutely. Thank you so much. Also want to add one more thing. Now I'm going to leave promise. Um, parents, please do not feel guilty when you go to an agency and you say, you want a person of color as your therapist. So many families come to therapy and they feel like they're not getting the services that their child needs because a child can not identify with that therapist that is completely normal. And it's also acceptable. You can definitely advocate for your child and say, you want a therapist that looks like your child. It does not make you racist. It does not make you incompetent. It makes you a parent that's once again, intentional and conscious about your child's development. Speaker 0 00:29:04 I am so glad you said that. Um, that is a, that, that is such an important piece of information. Thank you so much, parents. I hope you drop. I hope you picked up that nugget that he just dropped. Cause that was really important. Um, thank you again, William. We will definitely have to have you come back and talk more about how we normalize mental health with our kids. Speaker 2 00:29:23 Absolutely. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I love everything that you're doing. Speaker 0 00:29:26 Trauma is in the eye of the beholder acknowledging trauma. Doesn't make you weak and talking about your feelings can actually make you stronger. I don't know about you guys, but I already feel stronger. I want to thank my guests, William bear, Beano for stopping by to speak with us and thank you for listening. Show notes and resources for the things we discussed today are on our website at www just like me, presents.com, share this podcast with other parents and educators and your circle and be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an episode. And if you liked what you heard today, leave us a review reviews, help others discover our show and begin their journey. Have a great week. And remember if our children can see it, they can achieve it.

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